I spend a lot of time in strange places with strange people I don't know very well doing strange things. My writing this at this time of night sitting on a motel bed a few hundred miles away from my home exemplifies this tendency. Though there is a particular reason for why I am here in this instance, I've realized that more often, I find myself seeking all that is bizarre and abnormal and out of my comfort zone.
I find myself valuing the company of vague acquaintances more than that of people who are closer to me. They don't know my life; I don't know theirs and have no desire to learn more about it.
We connect on no complex grounds of the past, on no hazy expectations for the future. We connect in the present. In the now.
It is simple. It is becomingly carefree.
There's something too comfortable about closeness, security. Something unfulfilling in its fulfilling nature.
There's always something that overpowers that desire for a routine, the concept of having a niche in the world: a desire to be lost.
Lost in what? Lost where?
They always ask me, those who don't understand it. But there's no point in explaining, because there are only two types of people in the world: Those who don't mind being lost every once in a while and those who deeply fear it.
And of course there are those who are not aware of whether they have ever been lost or not. But those are hardly people at all.
Perhaps it's because sometimes, the world seems too vast and we are possessed by a desire to not just understand it or see it, but to be it.
Sometimes, we want it so badly that we are willing to break our flesh up into infinite grains of dust to coat every molecule of land and air that make up the planet. Maybe this is why people want to be cremated after death. It's one last attempt to embody the world.
Being lost is a sensory engagement.
We don't notice the dirt of the worn paths we tread under our feet every day. We don't notice the doorframe of our own house, the color of our curtains or how the carpet in the bedroom feels under our feet. Those things become a part of our mind that is caged off.
Our senses shut down to things we are too familiar with.
But if you walk into a neighbor's house, you will notice the feel of the carpet and the color of the curtains.
Walk onto the streets of a foreign city, and you'll notice that you have five senses again. Everything becomes sharp. The wind feels colder on your fingertips, colors are brighter, smells are stronger. Sounds are louder. They're louder because subconsciously, you're listening harder. Because you have no idea where you are or what to expect. Your senses are on fire.
Everybody is more aware when they're lost.
Russian literature comparatists came up with a qualification for writing to be literature, that is in order to produce true literature, one had to defamiliarize. In essence, take everyday, common events that one experiences and paint them in a different light, a unique perspective.
But in order to paint the banality of daily life in a different light, one must first view it in a different lens. And to do so, one must adjust his or her mind to accomodate it. It takes a conscious effort at first to view things in a different light, but if done correctly and constantly, it becomes intuitive, habitual.
I no longer see roads as roads or people as people when I walk by them in passing. They are characters in a book, subjects of a painting.
Rain is not rain, but a mood. Music is not sound, but emotion.
It is in this way that I am able to write, to paint, to think in poetry and walk in metered time. It is in this way that I am no longer like any of those around me. It is in this way that I can no longer connect with others in the same way, not even many of those with whom I've shared long years of friendship.
Defamiliarization. It has shaped me. Some would say it has destroyed me.
And some would say if it hasn't now, it will later.
What is it to be lost?
It is to be pitched into a void. To have no idea where you are or how to get where you want to go. Sometimes it means not even knowing where you're going at all.
To be lost is to throw yourself in this void for the sake of knowledge, for the sake of experience, for the sake of defamiliarizing. To be lost is to actively and consciously search for the lens that will provide you with that different perspective, even if you do not know what you are going to do with it.
To be lost is to climb out of your warm bed, your dark room, your den of friends, and embrace the senses that you have long since lost contact with. It is to embrace your deepest, greatest fear: The fear of not knowing. The fear of being insignificant.
The fear of being alone.
It is only through embracing this sort of terrifying unknown that you may also embrace that part of your mind, buried amidst the tangled neurons of trivial everyday interactions and mundane tasks, that will allow you to see and feel in a way that transcends how everyone else sees and feels.
It is only through embracing this unknown that will also take you a few steps closer to embodying the world.