Disorienteering

TheArtOfGettingLost
Pierre-Auguste Cot: The Storm, 1880
" … I lagged my way back home."

Sequestering provides few opportunities to get lost in anything more diverting than another fresh novel, fleeing ever inward as an antidote to such outward sameness. Suppers eventually come to seem like reruns. Didn't we just have this last night, or was that just the night before? Exploring the unchartable territory west of boring, each little chore hardly seems worth doing, fresh adventure insecurely out of reach. I've grown to know my neighborhood perhaps a little too well. Discovery only ever happens once, after that, it's simply not discovery anymore. An ennui settles over the proceedings and forward comes to feel like warmed over receding, a form of retreat. Mid-August brings vacation season for one excellent reason. It's damnably difficult to get lost at home. I know where every left turn will take me. I understand what's just over every hill. The thrill of discovery eventually slips beyond anyone's grasp and we're compelled to just disappear in favor of some Disorienteering.

We vacate to get ourselves lost.
Not bad and lost like some ghostly galleon haunting some shadowy shoreline, but good and lost, a renewing form of refreshment. A blindfolded spin intended to turn a familiar game slightly disorienting, we stumble into something for a change. The replicating sameness of Tuesdays stacked atop each other for as long as anyone can remember over-orients. The four o'clock call to start thinking about another damned supper, thawing and soaking, peeling and roasting, every step no longer rewarding, leaves a pall hanging over. We sup for tedium, it sometimes eventually seems, not for nourishment of companionship, but out of idle routine. There's real danger in any numbing sameness, a sense that nothing's deep down worth anything to the point that we seem to disappear. Here, right precisely here, one comes into desperate need for a fresh serving of Disorienteering.

Fortunately for me, I never really learned my way around this place. With an arc running ten miles out to the north and east, I'm on home turf. Beyond that rough boundary, I still tend to need the navigation app to guide be in and back. Absent that app, I might as well be in Albania without a compass. Yesterday, after making that appointment with the recently reopened bureaucracy, I dreaded returning via the usual terrifying freeway, so I took a deliberate wrong turn and headed into uncharted territory. The map app stifled my audio book, so I chose to continuing listening rather than remain oriented, and I quickly found myself lost. It had been so long that I barely recognized the blessing. It eventually occurred to me that I should probably be going roughly north and west, but that road had been insistently nudging ever further south and east. Certainly, I could simply turn around and return the way I came, but there's shame in that direction should I recant due to simple disorientation.

I took several properly correct wrong turns, each further tangling my excursion. I found myself driving into some sort of secret government installation and quickly recanted with a U-turn. I watched unfamiliar countryside slip by, imagining how those narrow roads might connect back into what I might have understood. I faintly remembered a road name and so quickly passed that one by. Where had this route been hiding? I seemed to be circling, following long meandering lines on some non-existent map. I figured I'd eventually get back to a civilization grown anything but civilized. I'd let every overtaking vehicle pass with extreme indifference, for I found myself productively Disorienteering, too busy to care. I could not muster any decent reason to rush myself through and out of there. I did not for the duration of that wander possess a care in this world, and even suspected that I might have somehow slipped out of this world and into some storybook counterpart entered solely by means of an innocent left turn head start. No backing back out allowed.

Ultimately, every road's connected to every other road and given the fundamental physics of this, lost becomes at best transitory. Just keep moving and something's bound to come up. A fresh connection should appear should one maintain faith that they're actually going somewhere. The alternative, rushing back into numbing sameness, hardly competed for my interest. I would maintain this refreshing illusion of lost even if I might too easily reason myself out of that state. I needed a vacation from what I knew, for my knowledge base had become an encumbering space. I desperately needed a taste of dumb, for I'd come to know too well for far too long. I wanted to rasa my damned tabula again.

I did eventually reconnect with my known world again, though I reentered in a reassuring haze. I could not quite shake the sense that I might still be somehow surrounded with mystery, though I easily found that almost completely hidden left turn secret passage only a few of us in the know reliably find. Sandstone uplifts, remnants of prehistoric sea bottom long forgotten, dominated both sides of that same-old byway. I could from there easily imagine how I might get back home, my Disorienteering ultimately resolving into a refreshed familiar. I resolved to make something other than just another same-old supper as I lagged my way back home.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved








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