A few months ago, I came across Rebecca Solnit’s 2005 book, A Field Guide to Getting Lost, lying on a friend’s table. I did not read the book but began wondering what one might find inside a book bearing that title. The following poem is a record of those thoughts:
Excerpts from A Field Guide to Getting Lost
If you have a compass, smash it.
Nothing can point you to true anything, let alone true north.
Besides — and never forget this — you are trying to get lost.
You may be gone for a long time
so be sure not to pack any food or water.
It is only the hungry who feed, only the thirsty who are quenched.
Before you leave, be sure to write a note
telling everyone exactly where you will not be.
The last thing you need is someone coming to your rescue.
Now, find the best map possible
and tear it up. You will be traveling on a scale
that no one has ever drawn.
Do not leave a string of crumbs behind you.
This would only attract predators.
On second thought, go ahead.
Write postcards telling everyone of your adventures.
Be sure to lie, like a fox leaving false tracks.
Someday they will thank you.
You will not know when you have arrived.
But if you think you have, you haven’t.
If you think haven’t, you probably have.
If you come to a fork in the road
stab yourself in the foot with it. You will
reach your destination much faster if you are limping.
Better yet, use it to pluck out your eyes.
There are many signposts along the way.
Maybe now you will learn to see.