never to get lost is not to live


“The question then is how to get lost. Never to get lost is not to live, not to know how to get lost brings you to destruction, and somewhere in the terra incognita in between lies a life of discovery….Thoreau, for whom navigating life and wilderness and meaning are the same art…slips subtly from one to the other in the course of a sentence. ‘It is a surprising and memorable, as well as valuable, experience to be lost in the woods any time,’ he wrote in Walden. ‘Not till we are completely lost, or turned round,—for a man needs only to be turned round once with his eyes shut in this world to be lost,—do we appreciate the vastness and strangeness of nature. Not till we are lost, in other words, not till we have lost the world, do we begin to find ourselves, and realize where we are in the infinite extent of our relations.’ Thoreau is playing with the biblical question about what it profits a man if he gains the world and loses his own soul. Lose the whole world, he asserts, get lost in it, and find your soul.”

From A Field Guide to Getting Lost, Rebecca Solnit
(New York: Penguin Books, 2005)

A 2014 Goodreads Reading Challenge book.

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PHOTO, At Walden Pond, December 2013, ©2013 Jen Payne.

4 thoughts on “never to get lost is not to live

    1. I think you have to read the book to get her full meaning – it was a very smart book that took a while to move through. But totally fascinating the ways she plays with the word “lost.”


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