How many times have you found yourself looking at a map, trying to ascertain where the journey had brought you? “You are here”, may be a helpful orienting clue on the map, yet, where and what are “here”, exactly?
In our dreams and waking life, when we’re paying attention, it may not be all that uncommon that we find ourselves lost.
Just last night I found myself wandering in my own sleep dreams, focused on “getting back” to where I thought I belonged in the dreamworld.
In midlife, or during any time of transit and change, it’s likely that we will experience not just feelings of loss, but also, adrift like any exile, we may find ourselves disoriented and unsure of what direction to take next. We may equally suffer from a profound lack of a true sense of belonging.
What does the metaphor and experience of being lost have to show us? What can we learn “here”? What does being lost presuppose? If one isn’t lost, might we assume that one is “found”? And, what might being found mean?
As we began to explore in a previous entry “I.D. and Registration Please”, there is a real way in which we take on roles, forms of identity and a connected sense of security based on “where we’re from”. Yet where is home, really? Do any of us truly know from whence we came prior to the summons to enter this life and assume a convincingly permanent address in this waking world?
Throughout, at least the first half of our lives, we spend much time finding, caring for and seeking to be sure we can continue to inhabit our abodes. We might easily think that such places are permanent, or desire that it be so. It’s just like it is with our identity – we hope to find certainty and a niche to belong to, a comfortable role, locale or position in life.
As many of us may know, such forms of certainty do not last. They are instead, ever-shifting, as the apparently ceaseless invitations to change and adjust to life’s circumstances encourage us to utter that perennial question, “Who am I, really?”
When we’re not actively asking these crucial questions, they will come unbidden in the night. Being lost may be a fruitful experience, seen from the perspective that, on a human existential level, if we look hard, it’s inevitable that we have to decide for ourselves based on our experiences who we are and where we might be headed. Being lost suggests that one who is amiss is somehow aware of a longing to be elsewhere, or at least, of not feeling “at home”.
Many people describe the, often unwelcome, life review that is inherent in midlife – and at other times – as a realization of having lost one’s way. Being lost in the dreamworld may be an evocation of this, and it may also be the way the soul has of showing us that we are being invited to a much deeper form of orientation, beyond the frail perceptions we create to delude our minds and hearts into thinking we know where and who we are, ultimately.
This issue of being and getting lost, is beautifully taken up by poet David Wagoner in his poem, “Lost”, where he says,
“The trees ahead and the bushes beside you are not lost. Wherever you are, is called ‘Here’, you must treat it like a powerful stranger, must ask permission to know it and be known. No two trees are the same to Raven, no two branches the same to Wren. If what a bush or a tree does is lost on you, then you are surely lost…”
The poets’ accuracy is a vital aid to us. We might simply feel that we’re lost, in large part because we’ve forgotten to pay attention to the world around and within us. For aren’t we also nature, and like the trees, the birds and other creatures to be found in the dark wood, capable – once we recognize that we appear adrift – of touching into a much more eternal and inherent source and sense of being?
As far as the soul is concerned, may it not then be possible that wherever we are is right where we need to be, and that if we feel lost, we’d do well to study and understand and learn from the true habits and natural forms of being that we also may honor when we can acknowledge that we are being guided by the cosmos, just as any tree or bush, raven or wren is and that perhaps we might find and feel how it’s a matter of realizing there is some greater power able for directing our lives? There’s a mystery to this, in that the same force can be understood to send us our dreams each night as we sleep. Maybe that Dreamsource is seeking to show us that we too may know, sense and perceive exactly how to be ourselves, in some deep yet obvious way, like the trees and the branches of the forest that are so apparently themselves, and that this is a portion of the invitation to being lost as well as the path towards being found.