Feeling lost is one of the great and terrible pleasures of being human; strangely, it may be what connects us most to our humanity. That searching, hopeful, hopeless, curious, exasperated, anxious, longing and innocent place of lostness is something every human has to slog through, usually many times. The most gloriously idiotic, expansive, embarrassing, and ultimately useful periods in my life have been those of fumbling around in the indigo abyss of lostness. The days and evenings full of aching anxiety and unsettled emotional slaw. No next step forward in sight. The sudden disappearance of meaning in work, relationships, community, life purpose...all giving way to a total lack of self confidence and connection to the surrounding world. Uggggh of the spirit. These periods feel cruelly confusing and disheartening. We interpret them as personal failure, as if we are bad at life. But the experience of being lost is actually a process of heart opening and increasing consciousness. How do we trek through these tough times with less self torture?
If you're not occasionally disoriented, you're not doing it right
My apologies to you if you feel uniquely hexed by the universe...but being lost is quite normal. Disorientation is a part of donning these human skin suits. We are infinite spirits stuffed inside a finite body. We are endless possibility trying to operate in the confines of a dense world of rules, gravity, solidity, and restriction; it is a laughably difficult paradox to live with. If we are paying attention at all, we feel uncomfortable some or much of the time. On a very deep irrational level we understand the truth of our infinite wisdom and of our innocence. We sense the place inside of us that has compassion and humour for the human journey we are on. But on louder more immediate levels, we judge ourselves for not being able to constantly march forward purposefully with confidence. It is awfully tough to occupy the human spaces in between. Most of us are doing the very best we can to manage this puzzle. It is important to give ourselves and others that hard earned credit. None of us arrived here with a how-to manual. We are winging it.
Lost or Recalibrating?
Although we do not arrive with a map, every one of us is born equipped with a perfect navigation system. We know when something feels not quite right. We know when its time to go or stay, even when that is the harder and less practical thing to do. We know when something has to change. Subconsciously, we even know just who to gravitate towards to learn heart lessons with, even if those lessons are terribly painful and difficult. This is not self punishment, bad judgement, or idiocy; it is an innate understanding of where our hearts need to learn and evolve. A very smart hidden part of you is driving your ship towards exactly what you need...all of the time. Sometimes what we need is a good aimless drift in the doldrums so that we can recalibrate and change direction. This is a necessary and useful period of temporary disorientation. Here, the hidden wise part of you is integrating the experiences you have been through and listening intently for new directional information. This process requires a lot of energy and can make you feel less functional, less sane, less powerful, less intelligent about your life. But is that true? Do we become temporarily incompetent? Would you consider a child who is trying out new sounds as she learns how to speak, incompetent? Most of us would understand she is remembering the sounds she does know, experimenting with new sounds and listening to herself so she can learn what comes next. We would not consider her lost or bad at life. We would encourage her. We would be patient while she finds her way. We would understand that she cannot learn to speak eloquently without going through this process. And hopefully, we would understand that learning to speak gracefully, honestly, and with precision is a lifelong process for her. We are all still figuring it out. We are that brave kid in our periods of disorientation, regardless of our age. We are listening intently for new directional information. When we have enough information and have digested sufficiently, we will take our next step. You simply cannot know what comes next until this process of recalibrating (“lostness”) has come to its own natural close.
Try not beat yourself up for being disoriented as you grow. It’s like picking a fist fight with the wind and will only deplete your energy and likely elongate the process. Attempt to see that your period of being “lost” is actually a sign of growth and is to be treated with respect, kindness, extra rest and TLC. Because you feel weird, you might make a few "bad" decisions. Don't worry too much about that; you will get useful feedback from those one way or the other haha. Just keep listening and watching. Feel the currents without trying to make too much sense out of them. You will know what to do when you know what to do. One day, you will wake up and try something new and go from there. Until then, go through the basic motions of self care (be active, read, interact with loved ones, spend time in nature, go traveling, keep your body healthy) even if your heart isn't in it. It will catch up. It's busy trying to open.
But what is the POINT?
I ask myself this question every time my heart or spirit breaks badly, every time I find myself disoriented and stuck, every time I have to give up something precious to me and begin again: what is the point of all of this? It's become a ritual I can expect, perhaps this sounds familiar?
- Things unravel
- I wonder why any of us are here living in this strange seemingly pointless complexity.
- I wonder why I feel so terrible and disconnected?
- I do nothing “productive”, make “poor” decisions and blame myself for failing.
- I wander around impatiently feeling sorry for myself.
- I eventually take a small uncertain step forward.
- I find some trust (even when trust has been broken). I learn to connect again.
- I find new ways to give and receive love.
- The sun shines on everything.
- Rinse and Repeat.
Why, oh why, do we have to put ourselves through this madness?
Physics Says So…
Because these periods feel so complicated and discouraging, we interpret them as times of personal failure. From a scientific perspective, we are experiencing a necessary phenomenon of physics. The universe we live in is measurably expanding and as it grows it creates temporary brief voids which are unstable by nature as they become filled with new matter. Since we are not separate from the universe, we are required to expand along with it, in all our growing pained glory. In our personal lives, as in the rest of the multiverse, new space is created, it is naturally an unstable state and will not remain spacious for very long. Physics shows us that matter will eventually fill in any space created. For example, if an earthquake occurs and wrenches open a new space in the ground, it will quickly become filled with oxygen, light particles, and eventually many other forms of matter such as water molecules, bacteria, and more complex organisms; a new eco system will develop. The space is created and the universe fills it. Being "lost" is an experiential process of your subconscious as you create space for yourself to be filled with…more life.
The Heart Says So...
Love and growth are innately ambitious. You came here to earth to learn how to evolve your heart and help others do the same. It’s a GIANT job. It is part of expanding along with the universe. Surely, you don't really believe you came here to just fumble around, get stuff, lose stuff, and then die ...do you? What a massive waste of resources that would be. Nature doesn't tend to waste energy. Nature evolves. You are on purpose, regardless of how you feel about that. By evolving your heart, you make the universal heart stronger, more wise, more diversified, more creative, and more compassionate. Your life is an enormous art project to illustrate lessons in compassion. It is similar to the evolution of a planet from a tiny cosmic dust particle into a place teeming with diverse life, advanced ecosystems, magnificent flora and fauna, and consciousness. You are this essential growth. Each of us contribute in our own unique ways just by being here as witnesses and imperfect participants. Heart evolution is not reserved for Mother Theresas, Ghandis and Martin Luther Kings. It is required curriculum for all of us humans; we cannot opt out of this, even if we wish to. Hiding from the world will also instruct the heart, but that may be just as or more painful than active participation. The heart learns equally from connection and separation, but separation can be a particularly tough teacher. So, whoever you are, no matter how “lost”, the world only requires you to show up and try as best you can. That alone will evolve the heart. You are allowed to screw up. Just make your best attempt at learning to forgive, to accept, to hold pain and trust in your heart simultaneously, to let go, to begin again, and to find love for things that challenge you. This requires some periods of restriction and disorientation; try to respect and accept them for the vital role they play in our learning process. They are an essential part of becoming more conscious, wise, and kind.
You are not alone
We are all in this together, in good times and bad, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, til death do us part. Even when we abuse one another or feel abused by life, heart lessons are being learned, as difficult as that may be to accept. This realm of choice and serendipity we call our world is a theatre of catalysts for our heart growth. The players here come in both benevolent and malefic costume, many of whom we’ve shared complex histories with in this lifetime and other lifetimes. We grow from both peaceful and jarringly painful interplay with it all. We are truly all in this together. You cannot be responsible for another person’s evolution (beyond the formative years of a child) but by being responsible to your own heart growth, and allowing yourself temporary disorientation along the way, you are doing the job you came here to do. This encourages and supports others on many different levels and layers. Be here for yourself. Be here for others. Be lost, be found, as many times as you need. You are creating more meaning and connection in the world every time you try. We are collectively and individually on a journey of spirit and physics. The lesson and reward for this participation is your life, all life.
By Gretchen Hickmott
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