The first time I appeared in the media wasn’t for professional reasons. I was just a kid that got lost while visiting a friend in his hometown. We were trying to take his bike to a shop to get it repaired. One person’s directions took us the wrong way and then another, until we had no idea of how to get back. It took a radio announcer to finally point his parents to our “rescue” spot.
Fast forward into the future: I’m in my 30’s, on vacation, in the middle of Patagonia. I’m trekking at a fast pace, hoping to be the first one of the group to get to a hidden waterfall. After a while, I realized I simply wasn’t way ahead of the rest; I was lost. It was getting too late –and dark- for me to turn around. I had to stop and find a place to spend the night. I wasn’t really prepared to sleep out in the open: I neither had food nor warm clothes to protect me from the pouring rain and freezing cold. It was a frightening experience. I spent the night keeping my body in motion so I could stay awake and survive in the mountains.
Now it seems simple, and exciting, to share that story. It’s easy to talk about getting lost once (and believe me, I’ve faced many other experiences) when I’m safe and sound. The interesting part is how those experiences shaped me. I ended up embracing the “getting lost” behavior and turned it into something meaningful.
I now appreciate going out on my road bike with no time constraints and no specific destination in mind. I simply enjoy the view until I find myself in some unfamiliar place, and decide to turn around and go back home. I love to go to a city I don’t know and wander around until I get lost, on purpose. I love to visit foreign places and follow locals to see where they go to eat. Most of the times, I end up in amazing hidden gems that provide not only great food but also a surprising experience.
Getting lost has shown me how to appreciate the unfamiliar, how to become more aware of the surprises a place has to offer. It has taught me to stop looking for a solution and let the solution find me instead. The act of getting lost has helped me to stay focused in uncertain times, when the outcome is unclear. I learned to enjoy the feeling that everything is about to go south. It’s then when I remind myself of all the times I’ve been lost before and have managed to find my way back. It’s a nice confidence booster.
Getting lost continues to make me uncomfortable. And I love that weird yet exciting feeling, a sign that something interesting is about to happen.
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