As humans, we spend our lives trying to navigate from one known state to another, from one well-worn path to another mapped out route. Staying on the straight and narrow can become a lifelong mission.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
In 1986, lost, as a stranger in a new town after a family move, I was struck by a work of art by the late great Steven Campbell – “Hiker in a Landscape – Turned into a Marsh Overnight” depicting a traveller staring at a broken signpost unsure now as to which way to continue his journey.
For Campbell, the importance wasn’t the anxiety of uncertainty that drove the visual narrative but the joy of possibility that would result from the chaos.
As a critic at the time wrote, “Ignoring signposts usually means losing your bearings. Campbell demonstrates that after all there may be some virtue in getting lost.”
At the start of a New Year of possibility and at a point in time where we seem to be even more pre-possessed with replicating the habits of old and irrationally expecting a different result, perhaps we should take time to explore an alternative path.
Why? Because if finding new answers is our collective aim then we have to entertain new methods of discovery.
The thing about answers is that you have to look for them – they are there, we just don’t know where. So, in order to find the answer, what is the answer? Well, It’s unlikely to be where we looked before, otherwise we would have found it.
We have to explore further afield and getting lost might aid us in the process
Venturing where we have never been before is not less, but more likely to get us the answer, why? Because if it isn’t to be found in a place we know, it must reside somewhere we don’t. Get lost and you won’t be where you were before and if the answer didn’t exist there, it’s sure to be unearthed elsewhere.
Ultimately it’s about opening our minds to the possibility that what we thought couldn’t or wouldn’t work, just might. It’s about considering that if the answer isn’t what, or where, we thought it might be, it’s likely to be where we least expect it. All answers have their true place – it’s just we haven’t been there yet.
So, for me, the road ahead in 2016 is clear – get lost – and to correct an error of the past I implore you – “stay on the same path if you want to, this man’s for turning”