A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit


That thing the nature of which is totally unknown to you is usually what you need to find, and finding it is a matter of getting lost.

Reading this book fosters a dangerous sense of restlessness.

I am not a frequent traveler. There are the kids, the money, the animals–many anchors keep me tethered to our medium-sized house and five acres of field and wood. And mostly I’m content to stay. To eat the food in my kitchen, to follow the well-worn routine, to make excruciating plans for those nights when we have basketball practice, boy scouts, and two meetings to accomplish within the same three-hour window. Mostly, I’m happy.

But, like I said, reading this book fosters a dangerous sense of restlessness. Reading this book makes me want to be, ahem, lost. I’m never lost. I mean, sometimes I get lost, such as when Luca has a basketball game at a school I’ve never been to before and the GPS on my phone decides it’s tired of taking orders from someone so obviously clueless. But that kind of lost isn’t a good kind. It’s awful. I feel like a failure when I get lost like that.

But the other kind of lost – I need more of that in my life.

Today is a snowy day, and a snow day. We are all home because there’s supposed to be a blizzard, though the evidence is weak as of yet. I think I’ll make everyone go for a walk later on. Lead my ducks out into the white, all wrapped up in scarves and coats with boots making their feet stiff. We’ll waddle down the road-turned-new and maybe make it to my friend’s house a mile and a half away, and maybe she’ll give us tea and a ride home. I won’t be lost, but it will be something different.


I had lots of plans for this snowy snow day. Work to do, laundry, moving furniture, catching up on details. It’s 4:30. I haven’t done any of it.

But we did go for a walk. Barno, Tallis, and I ventured into the white wind and almost turned back many times. But we kept on, mostly because the six-year-old was being all strong and well, the rest of us would’ve looked pretty bad getting bested by a six-year-old. We trekked up a mountain and nearly got run over by a car and scurried along deer tracks through thorny woods. Well, no, it was a fairly calm walk, and while I wasn’t lost, I did lead the boys through a piece of forest I’d never walked before to shave 20 minutes off our journey.  We made it to safety and the pleased face of our friend, who did feed us tea and cocoa, and even macaroni and cheese and Doritos. And dear M brought out the minivan so we didn’t have to walk home. Altogether a good day. Now I’m drinking coffee at the kitchen table, and the damn cat is hopping on the counter to lick the dirty plates that no one has taken care of because it’s just not that kind of day. The six-year-old? He’s back outside. Shoveling. With no hat. He is made of different stuff than me.

39 thoughts on “A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit

  1. I really enjoy your writing, I can relate in some way since I recur to security even if getting lost has its perks.

  2. I so enjoyed this post. I’d guess that, for the boys, this was a grand adventure. Perhaps your restlessness for getting lost was vicariously soothed.

  3. Reblogged this on samanthaspeaksmiami and commented:
    This quote by Rebecca Solnit really hits home right now. I am currently in the process of branding myself so I can take off in my career and starting my own blog is my way of getting lost in many ways.

    “What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise” -Oscar Wilde


  4. There is much simplicity in getting lost as you have written. Very good post. I created a new blog last month called Real Life Natural Wife. I really enjoyed your blog. I hope you’ll come check it out and leave me a comment with your thoughts! Congrats on being freshly pressed! Have a great day!

  5. Excellent writing about the concept of getting lost and how important it is. Snowdays with kids are a surreal experience. The found time, the pajamas, spontaneity and the beauty of nature.

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