A field guide to getting lost*

Leave the door open for the unknown, the door into the dark.  That’s where the most important things come from, where you yourself came from, and where you will go.*
(Rebecca Solnit)

When I begin writing in my morning journal, I’ve no idea what my prompting thoughts will be or where they will lead me.  It will include certain books over others, but which books?  What will I be thinking by the end of all of this, and what will I need to do as a result?

As I open myself to these new thoughts, some will excite me more than others.  It’s more than just thinking about different things, my heart is getting involved, too.

Nancy Kline tells of when she was gifted a Morning Glory plant, just a stem and two leaves, but soon that tiny plant would become a:

‘purple, blousy, blossom-festooned, soon-to-be-galloping glorious things, hundreds of them.’**

Her next words catch my interest more particularly:

‘They were in there […] not so much they were in there, as the means to make them.’**

From one stem and two leaves comes an incredible virulent mass of leaves and flowers.  Kline is thinking, as am I, how this is true of each of us.

We have generative hearts.

We become generative when we move from what we know to what we feel.  We find ourselves asking big, interesting, amazing, glorious, fantastic questions.^

Not answers.


I am 59 and feel it more than ever.  I am encouraged by T. S. Eliot when he asserts:

“Old men ought to be explorers.”^^

It’s no wonder, then, that Brené Brown catches my eye when she tells me of her practice when setting out on research that’s going to challenge long-held beliefs or ideas:

‘In these uncertain and risky moments of vulnerability,  I search for inspiration from the brave innovators and disruptors whose courage feels contagious.  I read and watch everything by them or about them that I can get my hands on – every interview, every essay, every lecture, every book.’*^

We don’t explore what we know, we explore what we do not know.  It’s why questions are so important over answers.

Rebecca Solnit follows the words which open today’s post by quoting the philosopher Meno:

“How will you go about finding that thing the nature of which is totally unknown to you.”^*

Living out a question is a good place to begin.  While some want us to live in their answers, they certainly don’t want us to upset the status quo and ask our stupid questions:

‘”You’re doing it wrong.”  But at least you’re doing it.  Once you’re doing it, you have a chance to do it better.  Waiting for perfect means not starting.’⁺

You find yourself somewhere.

Somewhere you didn’t know existed before.

(*From Rebecca Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost.)
(**From Nancy Kline’s More Time to Think.)
(^I am indebted to Neil Gaiman for this phrase in Art Matters when he is thinking of mistakes rather than questions.)
(^^T. S. Eliot, quoted in Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward.)
(*^From Brené Brown’s Braving the Wilderness.)
(^*Meno, quoted in Rebecca Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost.)
(⁺From Seth Godin’s blog: You’re doing it wrong.)


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