It’s Good to be Lost

One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do was to not make any decisions. Not because I didn’t want to but because I didn’t know what I was dealing with. It was a disorienting experience. I had come from a job where for years I made dozens of decisions daily .  They weren’t all good decisions of course. The point was I was making them. Doing things. Moving forward. Being decisive. Now I was hesitant, uncertain, drifting.

It was during the formative years at Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network. We were attempting to answer a question only a handful of folks had ever asked before, “What happens to people with disabilities after their parents die?” And the existing service delivery and advocacy apparatus couldn’t be relied upon for answers.

I’ve written about those details in previous books. My purpose here is to reflect on the experience of being lost – in other words when the world is no longer orderly, when everything is changing and when nothing is familiar. Heading out into the unknown is not always a grand adventure. The feeling of inadequacy and discomfort can be overwhelming. Your helplessness drains you of energy. You want to grab hold of something, anything, even though you know it’s not what you are looking for. And if you do grab hold, you know you’ll slide right back into the mess you are trying to escape from. Your despondency can make you wonder whether it will ever end. Mine lasted on and off for three years.

Then it ends. And the wait is worth it.

It’s good to be lost from time to time although it isn’t much fun when it’s happening. Being lost is often a pre-requisite to creativity, to giving birth to something different, more responsive and relevant.


Well, you know, you get wiped-out. And the deeper the wipe-out gets, the deeper the reluctance to use ornament or to use any of the other facilities that brought you to the wipe-out. See, if you never get wiped-out then the natural assumption is the things you’re doing are right. (Leonard Cohen)

Musical accompaniment for this post can only be Blue Rodeo’s, Lost Together. In this version they are joined by Gord Downie.  Purchase Blue Rodeo music here.


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