When was the last time you got lost? Like, properly lost, without Google maps, a tour guide or even an old school compass? The kind of lost where you pause, look around and think, ‘I’ve got no idea where I am, but I bloody love it!’before you continue on your merry way?
It’s been a while since I’ve gotten that lost, and that realisation made me reflect on how the ways I travel through the world have changed over the last few years. These shifts are easy to criticise: I penned a whole piece about how the pressures of Instagram and ‘travel productivity’ are preventing us all from enjoying life. I had a whole paragraph on how the expectations of posting and likes
means that we don’t really get ‘lost’ anymore, and how I’m constantly panicked by undone-to-do- lists.
It sounded good… but it wasn’t really the truth. The truth is, I love Instagram. I love hunting for the perfect angle, the perfect light, the perfect sunset. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s honed my eye and creativity in ways Microsoft Excel really, never would. But there is something in this conversation about the lack of ability to get lost that still rings true. Because even though I know the way to the markets, I still pull up Google Maps every time I head over. Even though I’ve been lucky enough to visit New York, Sydney and Khartoum more times than I can count, I never remember the cute places I’ve found – unless I’ve starred them and saved them
on my phone. My sense of direction is quite shot, and if I don’t know where I am, I do tend to feel like something is a little off. I think I’ve forgotten how to truly wander.
So that’s something I’m committed to working on. I’m taking small steps (don’t want to shock the system now): switching my phone off when I’m out on errands, placing it in air-plane mode a couple of hours a day, leaving Google Maps unopened in a new city. I’m easing myself back into a world beyond the expectations of immediate responses, the pressures of constant availability, and the limits of my own comfort. I’m not throwing my safety net away completely though, and for me, that’s a balance that works. I want the best of both worlds, after all. In doing so, I’m allowing myself to rediscover what it’s like to be lost, love it, and then later when I’m curled up on my couch, share it. The 2019 version of a wanderer.