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The Lost Art of Being Lost

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Being Lost. Not stranded on an island after a plane crash where you find yourself pressing The Numbers 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42. Rather, feeling lost.

Feeling lost in a bookstore, knowing you can’t possibly buy and read them all. Aimlessly wandering through the rows full of goodness, you suddenly bump into a few books that manage to spark your imagination.

Feeling lost inside the huge virtual world of a video game, uncertain where to go next. Aimlessly wandering through the villages and towns, you suddenly bump into a Grandmaster in Alchemy that agrees to learn one of your team members the secrets of the trade.

Feeling lost in your own thoughts while walking the dog, uncertain which ones are relevant and which ones are unconsciously constructed nonsense. Aimlessly wandering through the local streets, you suddenly realize that newly constructed building, which promptly silences your inner voices.

Feeling lost in a big city, which spikes your stress levels as massive amounts of people hurry along, seemingly also stressed. Aimlessly wandering across unknown parks and alleys, your grumbling stomach discover a local food store that has you take a deep breath and enter the shop.

Feeling lost on the Internet, barely remembering what it was you were looking for. Aimlessly wandering through the endless streams of (dis)information, you suddenly stop to carefully read an article that has you connect previously unconnected thoughts.

Feeling lost in the way of life, even more so after reading countless philosophers' opinions on how to live well. Aimlessly flipping through your notebooks, you suddenly realize this is your way of life, and it’s been great so far.

Feeling lost after a short bike ride to let off some steam, after accidentally taking a wrong turn or two. Aimlessly cycling in and out of neighborhoods, only to discover places you’ve never been before, even if they’re only ten kilometers removed from your home.

Feeling lost trying to remember that actor’s name in a show you’re watching with your friends. Aimlessly initiating a lively guessing competition that ignites more fun than the show itself has caused, even if after twenty minutes nobody managed to come up with it.


Purposely entering a bookstore and navigating to the exact shelf you need, thereby ignoring other potentially more interesting books that might make your day.

Purposely downloading a game guide, thereby efficiently power leveling your way through the virtual world, teleporting your way from one checkpoint to the next, reducing the sense of discovery to zero and missing out on interesting side quests that are perhaps irrelevant to the main story line but might have made you smile.

Purposely walking the dog using the most efficient route around the block, without also letting your thoughts aerate, thereby unable to make the connection between yesterdays' and todays' thoughts, without even knowing those connections might solidify an important idea.

Purposely navigating a city using a digital Maps app, eyes focused on your smartphone to make sure you’ve cut the right corners, thereby passing by the local delicacy store that would have made your stomach and yourself very pleased.

Purposely browsing for specific articles without clicking on related links that might land you an even better idea, thereby as a productivity expert winning time but losing substance.

Purposely cruising through life, knowing exactly what to want and what not to want without the help of ancient or modern philosophy, thereby not even bothering to open up to alternatives that could lead to an even more fulfilling life.

Purposely whipping out your always-on smartphone to immediately look up that actor’s name and satisfy your instant gratification wishes, thereby shutting down the funny discussion about possible inappropriate surnames.


I like being lost. I like organic finding without searching. I like unconscious stumbling. I like serendipity.

But I also like efficiency and productivity. I also like not being stressed by the unknown. I like the feeling of being in control. Only, this is not a lot of fun.

I'm Wouter Groeneveld, a level 36 Brain Baker, and I love the smell of freshly baked thoughts (and bread) in the morning. I sometimes convince others to bake their brain (and bread) too.

If you found this article amusing and/or helpful, you can buy me a coffee - although I'm more of a tea fan myself. I also like to hear your feedback via Mastodon or e-mail. Thanks!