The Art of Getting Lost

By Sean Ogle •  Updated: 10/20/11 •  4 min read

The Art of Getting LostMost of us go through our entire lives in a constant state of familiarity.

These days even when you’re someplace you’ve never been before, it can seem very familiar.

A few months back I drove halfway across the country, and never once did I get lost.

I had a GPS who was affectionately referred to as “Jasmine” and she made sure that no matter where I went, I’d arrive at my destination.

I was in a car that was familiar, with people who were familiar, in a country with rules and traditions that were decidedly familiar.

Anymore, it’s actually pretty hard to get lost. You almost have to try in order to make it happen.  More importantly, most people associate the experience of being lost as a negative thing.  Their blood pressure rises, heart starts beating faster, and they get irritated and angry.

Getting lost is one of the last remaining sources of unfamiliarity in an increasingly familiar life. But to truly get lost, you need to work pretty hard.

I’ve spent the last two days getting lost.

Just me on a motorbike, no phone, no map, making a valiant attempt to get from one side of the island to the other- and failing miserably.

I’d forgotten what it felt like to be lost.  You’re much more aware of your surroundings.  You take everything in: the smells, the people, the scenery, it was the first time I really felt like I experienced Bali for what it really is.

In the touristy areas like Seminyak and Kuta, you could really be anywhere in the world.  There are equal amounts foreigners to locals, and to come to Bali and only see those places is nothing short of sacrilege.

No, it’s in the outlying areas where you really get to experience the beauty of the island and the friendliness of the people.

I must have asked for directions, literally a hundred times over the last few days.  Apparently the places I’ve been looking to go don’t have much in the way of signage to help clueless foreigners such as myself.

I had no less than 3 people give me a wave to follow them as they drove me anywhere from 2 to 10km through a series of twisty turns that eventually landed me exactly where I was trying to get.

When was the last time anyone did that in the United States? It’s been awhile for me.

Getting lost can allow you to discover things about both your surroundings and yourself in the process.

On this trip, and most of my travels, I’ve realized that I can be overly focused on business.  My computer is my best friend and I hang out with it for the better part of 10 hours on most days.  As I was weaving through dramatic rice terraces I realized just how nice it was to not worry about business.  To be fully present in where I am, and enjoy the moment.

Or it could just be that Ubud has that effect on people.

There’s an art to getting lost that many people overlook.  Most get lost in the traditional sense while seeking a destination.  When I first got lost getting to Sanur and finally Ubud, I did have a destination.  However, the more lost I became, the less the destination mattered.

It got to the point where I’d drive down a road simply because it intrigued me.  Time didn’t matter, responsibilities didn’t exist in that moment.

This is why I travel. This journey getting lost made my entire time here in Bali completely worth it.

Think long and hard about the last time you were truly lost.  Was it a good experience or a bad one?

I’d encourage all of you to find a way to get lost. Take a day or five and experience the unfamiliar. You’ll learn more about yourself and your environment than you could ever imagine.

Sean Ogle

Sean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
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