Why you should get lost on purpose
To find yourself
Until the age of 14 I was living with my parents in a small village in Transylvania. Once a year we would go on holiday to a nearby thermal bath resort, or visit relatives in Hungary (these trips were considered a big deal to me at that time). I never remember getting lost with them though, it seemed they always knew their way. They could easily find famous monuments to show me in Budapest, the quickest way to get in to a medieval castle in Eger, although it was their first time in those cities. I still wonder how they did it, and why did I not inherit their sense of orientation.
When I arrived to Cluj, the city where I started high school, I got lost 4 times in the first 5 days. To be honest, in those days I was panicking and I was afraid to tell anybody that I was getting lost on the same route day after day. Then my wanderings became stories. I have made people laugh with my clumsiness, and eventually got to know the city.
In the years that followed I started to embrace it. It became my thing- getting lost in my hometown, getting lost in shopping malls, getting lost in train station or in small cities. And to this day, I love my thing. By getting lost I have found new paths, new places, new friends, but most importantly I have found myself.
To find hidden treasures
At university I had a professor who told us to always walk with our eyes open. To make his point, he asked us how many of us have seen the African hut on a building’s façade in the center of Cluj. I almost felt embarrassed as his words were followed by a great silence. By that time, I have lived in Cluj for almost 6 years, and have been passing near the mentioned hut almost daily.
Every city has its own hidden treasures. Sometimes they are obvious to the tourist-eye, but most of the time these gems hide even from the inhabitants. We all know that feeling when we find an expressive graffiti, a funny looking statue, a weird gargoyle that was not highlighted in the guides. They become ours. These little discoveries are the joys and rewards of getting lost, so don’t forget to walk with your eyes open when you get lost.
To find patience
Let’s face it: getting lost is not always fun and games. Sometimes you get lost in the pouring rain, in a dangerous area, or trying to get to your hotel after walking 20 km a day. These situations are not only frustrating, but they put your patience to a test. I often found myself arguing with my partner over the correct route, feeling tired and stressed.
And then everything comes to a point where you let it go: you don’t care anymore about the pain in your legs, your sun burnt skin suddenly stops itching, your thirst goes away and the only thing you can feel is that floating “I don’t give a f*ck” attitude where the magic happens. Where your experience becomes a story. Where your arguments makes you laugh later. Where getting lost is the beginning of the adventure.