Growing up, I remember being fascinated with maps, globes, and road atlases. I would stare at the different countries, trace how far they were from Washington, dreaming of one day making the real-life journey to those distant lands.
I read the atlas like others would a novel, fascinated with imaginary journeys and people, intrigued by the lay of the land. When my family went to the store, I wanted to know which store we were going to, the roads we would drive on, the proximity to major freeways, and the minor roads that connected at different spots. Long before the days of GPS and Google Maps, I used this knowledge to give concise directions from Seattle to our home in Hockinson.
To this day, I don’t like to get lost, preferring to always know where I am and where I am going. However, this desire to always know where I am, never wanting to be lost, has been adapted in how I use and express my creativity.
Creativity Is Knowing Where You Are…
The funny thing about creativity is that you consistently need to take stock of what you have and where you are. You can’t blindly drive down the road expecting to arrive safely and timely to your destination. Your eyes must be open, destination known. But once those two aspects are known, you have freedom to define the journey in an infinite number of possibilities. Projects typically have parameters and goals that need to be met (your destination). You then take your skills and abilities (where you are currently at) and plot a course and plan of action for the completion of the project.
The danger is when you always begin a journey in the same place, never seeking another way to get to your destination. When you never take a chance and risk getting lost, everything looks, tastes, sounds, and feels the same. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
…So That You Can Get Lost
The joy of living a creative life is found in getting lost, eventually arriving at your destination in new and exciting ways. Not only that, but there are additional benefits to getting lost. You stop at unexpected places. You meet people you otherwise would not have met. You see new things and realize that there is more to our lives than what we daily experience.
All of this fuels our creativity. We change the way we speak and write, what we photograph or paint diversifies, our lives grow beyond the borders of our past assumptions, and most importantly, the starting point for our next journey has shifted.
We are not the same.
We will never be the same.
That is what is so frightening and exciting about getting lost. We not only find new ways, but ourselves as well.
I can’t wait to get lost. In fact, I think I’ll go for a drive right now.