Last year a friend of mine compiled a small book on the topic 'lost' and asked many people to write a short article on the subject, about whatever they may associate with it. This was my contribution, my association with the term 'lost'.


Lost-the first association most of us may have with this term is probably that of the loss of someone or something after all, aren't we so familiar with the loss of this tiny item or that or, on a much larger scale, with the loss of a beloved one, a parent, child or friend? Throughout our lives people pop in and out of our lives, sometimes the loss being extremely painful, leaving a thick ugly scar on our souls. Each one of us can tell a story about having lost, and a great many walk around right now carrying the burden of some recent loss heavily upon their shoulders. But let us ask the inevitable question for once how many of the people we have lost are not eventually replaceable in one way or another? True, the gap a mother or child leaves is very hard to fill, though I have even seen that happening more often than not, and how many lost friends have we not replaced with another, even better one?

We lose and we win permanently. We lose one friend or partner yet, in this fast changing, wide-open world, can quickly obtain another. We even lose a little bit of our lives each single day and still there is no void because the loss is filled with memories and occasionally wisdom. We lose and we fill, and hardly ever is the remaining gap so dramatic that it could touch the core of our very existence. There are even times in our lives when we live right next to someone, and yet we have a certain sensation of having lost them, for the simple fact that we are internally drifting apart and are no longer together looking into the same direction.
Here is the term 'lost' in the most basic of all senses, but I do not actually want to write about this association with lost.

As soon as I read the title of this year's writing project I had to think not so much of the people or things I have lost but of the entire sensation of feeling lost which particularly characterises my generation. Losing is almost always painful, true, but what is all the more confusing and hard to bear for a lot of today's young people is feeling lost in a world that is so full of possibilities, of chances, choices, of routes to take, that the mass of options simply dazzles or even blinds them. I can always only make one choice, grasp one opportunity, at the same time losing out on millions of others which might have been equally good or even better for me.

Faced with a world of infinite possibilities, how is a young person supposed to ever find the one 'right' way without at least occasionally feeling lost among the many lures pulling them into this direction or that? Who does not tend to doubt their decisions from time to time and secretly wish they had made a different one?

As soon as you become way too curious about the many options, open up too much to them, the feeling of being lost inevitably settles in sooner or later. So there is no necessity to live and work in your own country as long as you have the right passport that will open many a door but where do you most want to go? You love to travel and could imagine being pretty much everywhere for a while? Well then, why not try the UK, or rather further off USA, exotic Latin America, the fascinating world of Asia, troublesome Africa or why not indeed the other side of the world, Australia? You have friends all over the globe who would welcome you with open arms, if you want a partner and don't quite like your next-door neighbour or work colleagues, well then, just click yourself through infinite cyberspace and in no time at all cloud 9 will hang right above your head. But beware-once you have made your choices cut off that string of curiosity that ties you to the remaining world or you're doomed to feeling lost for good.
So you've settled in Australia with a Malaysian husband, working as a flight attendant which allows you to enjoy this fantastic world with all its technologies in every possible way. But what if you had fulfilled that other dream of yours of helping poor people in Africa and possibly sharing your life with and mysterious African from some authentic, unexplored tribe? Or that option of settling in beautiful rural Britain, maybe married to a successful enough man so you could take some time off and focus on your lifetime dream of writing a remarkable novel? You are just fine where you are and yet the questions keep marching through your mind, more persistently each time, making you wonder and yearn.
Flexibility is the keyword in our world and yet it is also, above all, the one approach to life which dooms us to eternally feeling lost.

Lost are those dull old days when people would marry someone from their own village, the woman then doing the household while the man would bring home the bacon, holidays being restricted to hiking in the nearby fields or woods, just one language being spoken at a time at home. Fortunately they are over, I dare say, while at the same time trying to fight the growing wish to live my life all over again in 100s of different versions, each time embarking on a new of those many exciting routes possible.

Having said all this I should now at least admit that to a certain extent I find that sensation of being lost in a wide world full of interminable possibilities highly enjoyable because in its own strange way it provides me with a freedom people in the past never knew - and even many people today still don't know because they simply don't perceive the lures as powerfully as I and a lot of people of my generation do. At the end of the day, at least to me, it is the excitement of just being carried away by the stream of options from time to time in order to lose myself in yet another fascinating stretch of life that makes life so worthwhile and strips it of all routine and predictability.

And if I feel too lost at times? Well, then I just look back at all I have gained along the long highway of being lost in this one funny little life and trust that somehow, sometime, I will arrive at one magic place that makes me feel I have reached the end of the labyrinth. But, until I get there, plenty of more adventures should lurk around this corner or that, I do hope, as otherwise I just wouldn't be myself, one very happy sample of the 'lost' species.

Essay by Havetslys
Read 600 times
Written on 2007-04-20 at 19:50

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