how to be lost




Something entered your life and pulled it out of whack.

It might have been as subtle as longing or as shattering as death or divorce. It forced you into the unknown. You look up and realize you’re lost.

Disoriented, you have entered a new way of being, a new country of you. This is how a hero’s journey starts – stepping to your ragged edge, and beyond.

The journey makes you. Being lost is a creative process, a re/vision of self. click to tweet

Creativity happens in stages. There’s a period of defining the problem. What questions are you asking? What if you took the question and asked it ten different ways? Change the question, change the frame, change the angle on your life. Maybe you need a new angle.

There’s a period of gathering your materials, looking for inspiration, venturing into new territory.

This requires a leavetaking.

Every journey starts with the realization that here is a place you can no longer stay.

Something is sacrificed. It gets left behind.

You might have to leave a relationship, or a job, or a city, or a career. Not to mention the beliefs and self-image that you have outgrown, the defense mechanisms that no longer serve you (and are probably holding you back).

Then there’s a period of incubation. You have taken those raw materials inside yourself to fashion something new: an insight that will shift your life, illuminate direction.

This is a time of pulling inward, descending through the layers of self. You’re listening for the voice at core that speaks up through your bones. It will tell you what you need but first you have to block out the external noise, the other voices that would dictate what to do and who you are.

This can be the tricky part: standing firm, in your power, holding the tension as new shapes take form. Refusing to let the busyness, the distraction, consume you.

When we do things just to please someone else, when we go looking for approval and external forms of validation, we get divided inside ourselves. We cut off from our own vitality: that which feeds and nourishes us, gives us the strength to experiment and make our so-called mistakes.

Being lost is uncomfortable, and our culture has a real discomfort with discomfort. The culture wants you to snap out of it, bounce back, go to your happy place. But transitional periods move to deep, internal rhythms. They can’t be rushed. They demand their time of chaos. Eventually you will find your way home again, bringing back the elements you gathered on your journey. The unknown enters the known to create your new reality.

But first, you have to be lost.

That’s how worlds are discovered. click to tweet

Apr 17, 2013

5 comments · Add Yours

wow. just… wow.


And that is how books get written! This is the perfect description of the inner conflict of a story arc. :) e


“Being lost is uncomfortable, and our culture has a real discomfort with discomfort”
Yes! Wonderful piece, Justine!
I have often enjoyed taking unknown routes from point A to point B, for the discovery, and also the uncertainty of it all, thus getting semi-lost often. Kids in back seat often love this, while front-seat passenger not so much. If you can navigate a bit by the sky, then one is never completely lost.
This differs from suddenly being plunged out of relationship into a new world to be created for oneself, which I also learned can be navigated in slightly the same fashion. Practice is healthy.


wonderful post! thank you for sharing. great reminder of the universal power of the journey in literature, and its practical implications in all of our lives….


This was sent to me at my lowest point several days ago. Thank you for the validation that what I am about to do is healthy and wise.


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