Jesus has been known to suggest that one’s experience of our collective dream of separation is marked by an upside down, inside out view of things. We experience Love… as bound up with our pain, or perhaps we are afraid of what Love would offer us. We fear the things that offer us peace and eternal happiness, because of what we think they will cost us, and we are drawn into attachments with those things that offer us only suffering and death, because we think we can hold onto them and achieve at least a semblance of value that is our very own. In thinking about this journey without distance, this awakening from isolated terror to the holy accompaniment of all that is, I found myself struck by the parallels between getting lost, and returning to Love.
This makes sense, I thought, since getting truly lost is horrible, and that is precisely upside down from truly finding Love. But the logic of this metaphor doesn’t stop there. No ma’am!
Imagine you drove out to a beautiful forest on a bright sunny day, with the birds singing and the butterflies flitting to and fro, and you said to yourself, today I am going to get lost. You might then say to yourself that you really mean it. For good measure. There are a number of problems with this willful misplacing of yourself in the wilderness, however. For instance, at what point do you begin to wonder how well you are doing? You might walk for an hour or two and then ask yourself, am I lost yet? Well no, not yet. You find you’re quite confident if you walk back the way you just came, while you might not recall every step, you’ll get back to the car in roughly the same amount of time it took you to arrive at the location in which you are standing. The type of vigilance that comes from checking in on our progress every fifteen minutes is far from conducive to actually losing our way.
I think it is the same with reaching a place of deep and abiding peace, of warm communion with the heart of our being. All this asking, am I there yet? plays against the very objective that is sought.
Next, it is apparent to me that being lost is a state of mind. When we first begin to wonder where the hell we are, the mind begins its litigation against the conclusion that we are lost. No, no we’re not lost, we tell ourselves. We’re just temporarily getting our bearings. We may not know exactly where we are, per se, but you know, the sky is clear, we’ve been heading south all day, so the car and/or the highway that brought us here are to the north. Simple. Or else we’re convinced that up ahead there will be a village, or a clearing with an old map tacked to a tree, or some other delusory circumstance that will turn the tables. We’re not lost at all. Just exploring. Live a little, would ya’? In this way the mind insulates us from the fact that we could be lost, even in circumstances where this might very well be the case.
Likewise, on the flip side of this coin, our minds insulate us from the experience we are having right now, the one of continuously arriving in the discovery of the Loving Reality in which we all share. No, no the mind says. This experience–such a word!– is just an ephemeral state of dancing hormones in your glandular system. You’re tired is all. You’re not any different than before. You are who you’ve always been. I told you who you are, remember? We had an agreement. We know what’s going on here. You’re no different than the other day when we decided the right road is small, incremental adjustments. Otherwise, how could you keep track of what’s really going on?
Then there’s the Big Moment. Oh shit… We’re lost. What’s next is panic. Or grim determination. Or an exercise in suddenly deploying our long lost tracking skills. We fall back on skills learned vicariously through television. What’s next, ultimately, is the sense that something has gone wrong…
Flip the coin. The acceptance of Love is hovering near. We’re on the verge of a radical reversal of thought and perception. The sensation arises that what lies on the other side of this reversal is not only wholly different than our past, but unknown and unpredictable. Oh look, a butterfly! A sign! Distraction. Or… oh, no! I’m not ready. There’s one more thing I need to do, but now I know where to go, I’ll just go do that and come back tomorrow…
So I think that accepting Love wholly, is a lot like getting lost. It’s inevitable, once we learn to walk by feel, blindfolded through the woods, without keeping track of every little turn and fork in the road. It’s inevitable, once we realize, we never really knew where we were to start with…
If you’re not lost yet, fall in love with whatever you are doing right now, and don’t look up until it’s over. The other thing you can do is commit to keep walking, further and further into the forest. Commit to never looking back. This type of commitment is what I believe Jesus means by willingness. You just take a step, and then a step, and then a step. Until you don’t even dare think of what it would take to get back. Plus you’ll be traveling with a group by then, sneaking about under the stars at night, writing poems and telling stories about a place and time you’ve nearly forgotten altogether.
It’s a journey without distance, but it doesn’t mean you always stay in the same place… Your hopelessly lost heart won’t abide it.
At the risk of seeming totally off course, I’ve often wished I could get lost. It has taken a long time to understand this business of location. What I discovered is that you can’t feel lost when you feel present and that you belong, wherever you are.
Maybe I have not suffered enough to have the right amount of fear about getting lost. The wilderness has always attracted me to it. As I age, and technology shows us Google Earth and airplane views, the earth seems so tiny, all the towns connected, hardly any place left to get lost, lol!
But the craving for the wilderness, ahh, that never goes away, because, perhaps that is the place of creation, the deep, dark forests of the soul, where we wait for what is unknown, but suspected, to show up. Be ready, and be willing, say yes!
I don’t think there is a “right” amount of fear about getting lost. I think you may have transcended altogether the metaphor I was crafting, as the fear of getting lost is only relevant to that seemingly real part of us who thinks it knows precisely where it is at all times, or is living within a known facade of concepts it has taken to be “real”, and has yet to penetrate the “dark forests of the soul” wherein its seeming existence would inevitably dissolve into the hallowed, deeper inner space of one’s soul.
Of course, once you develop the ability of the adept to be at home wherever you are, the concept of lost is meaningless, and all meaning is restored. The fear of getting lost is meaningless, and the sanctity of all conceivable locations has already been recovered. Such an awareness would have little use to seek… having found. Or to fear getting lost… having arrived.
Yes! to being willing and ready.
Thanks for this post about getting lost and falling in love with being lost. It spoke to me about letting go of all the tightly held thinking about the idea that I am who I ‘think’ I am. Losing myself in the wilderness of your upside down, inside out metaphor is easeful and okay – give way to the openness of no constructs to support an explanation that falls apart as soon as I stop holding it up… yaay I could really get to like it.
Yes, exactly. Getting lost, like falling asleep, or relinquishing a long-held concept of self and world, is a letting go. We have to remove all the gauges and instruments from the aircraft, even the fuel gauge, and then steer the plane for vast fields of clouds.
In thinking about this upside down, inside out thought-patterned world we have constructed in our perceptions, I am reminded of your writing about Minecraft. Maybe another instinctual attraction of these virtual worlds is the safe sensation of knowning one can never truly be lost- frustrated at being in unknown circumstances, sure, but no real chance of getting into spaces beyond one’s ability to recover, reboot the system, or get on-line for assistance. How like unto our own lives, and the help that is available, that we fear (until we no longer do) isn’t there at all.
I remember the first time I realised that on these Europe/Asia long-haul flights of 12 hours or more, passengers lolling around in pushed back seats watching the movie or asleep, there’s nobody driving the plane – pilots are asleep too, maybe one is awake monitoring the little coloured lights on the dashboard. Auto-pilot in control of this flimsy aluminium structure built around massively powerful engines, hurtling through space at 600 miles an hour and 6 miles above the surface of the Earth. There’s a subtle sense of OMG combined with yeh, well it doesn’t matter, does it? And that acceptance of the miracle masks the Truth. Necessary to return to the experience, push through the fear and relive it. What you’re saying here helps us to see the safe sensation and how we’re never truly lost…
as I begin to wonder which way is back, I go faster and feel some sense of danger, mystery, thrill, people must be waiting for “me”.. I love to find twisty places that disorient me and I love the feeling of playing at getting lost – I do do this for reals. 🙂
Your post also makes me think of dear Lot’s wife turning and looking back – the world that we can usher in is so tasty, the exotic yet still comforting food we remember from the days before these days – eons ago; I shrug at going back; what is there to hold on to over my shoulder, junk food, confusion, a facsimile I have pretended to be real…I get so tired of the back and forth, why not get more and more lost – nothing is stopping me……. thank you for the the breadcrumbs not leading back but forward – where no witch awaits, but a gingerbread house, I bet.
Yes, onward to the gingerbread cabana, and no more breadcrumbs left on the trail for us to find our way back. For others to follow, sure, but not for going back to the world you described. In another upside down and inside out kind of way, this journey into the unknown is like a return to those ages eons past that you have described so wondrously of late, but there is something different about it, too. Now we’ve moved through the “facsimiles [we] have pretended to be real”, we’ve seen through these shams. Is this our innoculation into permanent and expansive fields of Grace? Are each of us thus the ones innoculating this world from falsehood? I, too, have the sense of something waiting for us all…
Oh, the deliciousness and bewilderment of no identifiable external markers for which to glean meaning that means much of anything anymore…such precious and eloquent words left as you are being a living tunnel into this precious state past mind Michael.
I said upside down
You’re turning me
You’re giving love instinctively
Around and round you’re turning me
Boy, you turn me
And round and round
Instinctively you give to me
The love that I need
We stand seemingly lost and alone on the stage and issue the invitation: “Can I get someone to come and dance with me?” Then wait and see who shows up to the party, having gotten lost back into such a similar place of feeling home.
And the video ends:
Michael: “I love you.”
Diana: “I’m learning.”
– – – – –
Fun aside: I have seen 4 live concerts in my life. One of those being Diana Ross and another one Michael Jackson. And the person who took the 13 and then 14 year old M to see them perform? My adopted uncle named… Michael :).
Awesome! Concerts can be such fabulous events. I often have the experience at a concert of it being some sort of holy tempest- a vast collection of lives drawn together to share a moment in which the creative act of music-making renders any other needs or perspectives temporarily moot.
The first concert I went to was a Dinosaur Jr show in Birmingham, AL. Still one of my favorite bands of all time. I was a freshman in high school, and pretty quiet, pretty self-conscious, pretty geeky. I managed to make the varsity soccer team, though, and one of the seniors asked me one day at practice what I was up to that night, expecting me to say, uh, homework probably, and I said I was going to a concert. Well, there couldn’t have been that many concerts mid-week, so he is suddenly quite curious, says, “No s@%^t! Which one?” To which I meekly offer my reply. He couldn’t get over it. He was going, too. It was such a great moment. Pure joy for him. A hidden mystery had revealed itself. Here I was, this scrawny honors-class type who probably actually trained in the off season, does his homework before watching television at night, and who is still afraid to drink beer because of moral reasons, is venturing out into the den of alternative, angst-fueled, guitar-saturated, mosh-pit-laden iniquity.
Yup. There are so many closets to come out of along this road of becoming who we are, it’s not even funny…
to never looking back! I’m in! 🙂