The art of getting lost is one that is still surprisingly frowned upon. Many critics – distinctly middle-aged and conservative– have labelled the art as an unfashionably rude and ignorant practice, that results in nothing more than wasted time. (Wasted time here, of course, being synonymous with wasted money; wasted money being a major factor in their criticism).
Yet, I believe this to be a highly reductive perception.
Getting lost, losing one’s way, hopelessly meandering, having your head in the clouds, should all be praised as forms of art, because at the core of art is discovery, exploration, expression, provocation. Ideas that cannot be found on Google Maps regardless of how much data is provided by your network.
However, with the advent of Wi-Fi, smartphones and 3G, it has become somewhat impossible to be fully unaware of your location. With one small tap, we can now pinpoint our exact whereabouts; instead of looking up, we look down to find our place in the world. We reduce journeys to point A and point B, whilst our estimated time of arrival – or ETA as it is known in certain savvy circles – is clearly brandished on our screens for us to watch eagerly as it ticks away.
It is easy and efficient, so why on Earth should we stop?
To explain this perspective, we should explore the story of Alice – aged seven – who was the victim of the negligent behaviour of the National Trust, who failed to sufficiently signpost a sizeable rabbit hole that was present on one of their paths. This resulted in Alice falling a considerable distance into a strange land. Thankfully, the rabbit hole and the proceeding world still had adequate signal, allowing Alice to whip out her iPhone, open Maps and follow the blue line all the way back home where she swiftly sought legal advice. It is important to note that Alice did not stumble upon a Cheshire cat, a blue caterpillar or any type of hatter – mad or otherwise. Her journey was rather unremarkable.
If we live like Alice and view life as if it were a dotted path, then the wonder of the world will swiftly dissipate; replaced only by trip advisor star ratings and cliché icons that indicate that there is a Wetherspoons nearby. Seeing as most mapping software tend to recommend generic institutions, and given that we are creatures of convenience, who make decisions based on practicality, the sense of adventure that once sought after, through every facet of life is now consistently being threatened by cold pragmatism.
The world is full of many mad march hares hosting their oddly inviting tea parties, however it takes an artistically astute wanderer to voyage off the generic path and delve into the unfamiliar in order to find them. In those moments where our sense of location vanishes, we are in a position of immense possibility. Every corner holds new surprises, new exciting prospects that can provide unknown rewards and joys. In abandoning our reliance on navigation technology, we no longer confine ourselves to our destination. Instead, our fixed destination dissolves into numerous avenues in which an infinite combination of new journeys may begin to unravel; many memories, that otherwise would have remained neglected, burst into existence.
Just like the artist, the lost wanderer stands on the precipice of potential. Below is an immense gorge – life swaying in the wind and rippling throughout the grass – an array of improbability stretches out towards the horizon. Others choose to take an alternative route, a more stable path where the destination is clearly visible. However, the artist and the wanderer descend into this valley hand in hand, undeterred by the vastness, eager to embrace the unknown.