To say I have a poor sense of direction is a significant understatement. I instinctively turn the wrong way when stepping off an elevator. I often find myself far from where I intended when running unfamiliar routes. My husband (though he is not alone in this) jokes - not inaccurately - that the easiest way to find a destination is to wait behind me at an intersection - then turn in the opposite direction.
This tendency can be inconvenient - to say the least - in the regular rhythms of work and life. As a result, I adhere to very specific routes when commuting around town to meet with clients, keep appointments, and shuttle the babe to her activities and classes. These familiar paths ensure timely arrivals, minimize anxiety, and allow me to focus on more important things.
When traveling, however, I like to get lost. Morning runs become an opportunity to explore new neighborhoods and scout out interesting sights to investigate later in the day. Lazy afternoon strolls lead to unexpected delights.
While in Portland over the holiday weekend, my husband and I reflected on the rarity of getting lost in the era of turn-by-turn, real-time navigation. As we talked about some of our earliest travels together, it became clear that a common element of our favorite memories was serendipity - unexpected treasures when and where we least expected them.
We decided to allow this trip to follow those meandering rhythms and set out each day with no agenda, map, or specific destination. As a result, we literally lost ourselves in the city - and it was wonderful. We stumbled upon a pristine hilltop vista with an unparalleled view of the bay, an charming off-the-beaten-path bookshop, and a perfect watering hole. It was a refreshing change of pace and a welcome disruption to our highly structured norm.
Carefully cultivated rhythms and routes can help life run smoothly, but we can all benefit from losing our way from time to time. Give it a try this summer. Whether you find yourself far from home or in your own city, get lost and discover something new...