There are several ways to react to being lost. One is to panic....Another is to abandon yourself to lostness, to allow the fact that youʼve misplaced yourself to change the way you experience the world.
Audrey Niffenegger, Her Fearful Symmetry
We keep having the same conversation. Espousing the same ideals. Making the same plans and then wondering why they didnʼt work this time.
A lot has changed for us in the past 15 years, but oppression is not less pervasive. We have had some major victories, but we havenʼt won the war.
And maybe the fact that weʼre at war is the problem. Weʼre acting as if there are enemies and good guys. Weʼre mobilizing and arming ourselves with data and statistics to go out to fight the good fight. But maybe weʼre not really at war.
Maybe weʼre just lost.
All of us.
Maybe itʼs time to “abandon ourselves to lostness” and change the way we experience the world. Maybe we need to hold loosely our precious ideals and just see what works by putting one foot in front of the other, linking arms with others.
And maybe the “others” need to change. Weʼve all been in workshops where weʼre told to find the person least like us and have a conversation with then. Well, what if we found people not like us at all, linked arms and tried to figure a way forward together?
Of course, this will lead to major discomfort. Do I link arms with the corporate strategist who has no idea about Triple P bottom line? Do I link arms with the police officer who has been arresting my people? Do I grab the hand that has hit my mother or led me to a lynching?
Well, if I was lost and I thought you were too, I might. If I thought it might get me out of here, I might.
And actually, this isnʼt an essay saying letʼs make friends with our enemies. Itʼs an essay asking us to consider why they are enemies in the first place. Or maybe not even that. Perhaps itʼs asking us to look at the person next to us, across from us, beside us, or in another city or country and simply ask them if we can get un-lost together.
What would it take for us to do this? What would we have to give up? What could we possibly gain?
If we see ourselves in a familiar landscape but hold some curiosity about it, what might be possible? If we look at an event from - not a different perspective - but as if we have never seen the event at all, what could we do about it?
What is the gift of being lost?
For one, we can stop pretending we know what to do. Which is incredibly liberating. We can stop trying to convince people that we know the way out of this mess that has taken the whole lengthy history of humanity to create. We can open our eyes, and say, “Whatʼs next?”
Being someone who is just as lost as everyone else, I think I can say for sure “whatʼs next” is not “whatʼs been”. Itʼs not even “what is” today.
I think whatʼs next is a new conversation about how we are different from each other. And how we are the same. And how we are both and neither. And how the old conversations about difference and commonality are not the worthy conversation anymore.
The we have a “common humanity” conversation is no longer viable. And yet it is true.
The “speaking truth to power” and “ you must acknowledge and understand my difference” conversation is no longer viable. And yet it is also true.
What is the new conversation that holds these truths and simultaneously lets them go while still moving us forward?
What is itʼs language? What is itʼs texture? What is its substance?
What is the conversation that is not in denial of either our common humanity or of our differences? What is the conversation that can hold, hold, hold us as we do work together?
What would we be saying if we admitted that we were lost and none of the rhetoric that we know has gotten us to the place that we want to be? What would we begin to notice about ourselves and each other?
What would we want to talk about?
What is the aching in each of us that calls us to leave the directions and landmarks of what we know and move into a completely unknown landscape? I think we do want to move there. I just think we donʼt know how.
So what if we just embraced it? Said I donʼt know where weʼre going, but letʼs take a first step - letʼs have a first conversation - and try to figure it out.