Chris DeLine

Cedar Rapids, IA

Getting Lost

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“How will you go about finding that thing the nature of which is totally unknown to you? […] 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.” –Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost

Some time ago, within this past year, I was asked to lead an A.A. meeting. I’ve led several before, and after, but at the time I was deep in reading this book by Rebecca Solnit, and wanted to focus on something more immediate and personal with the meeting than whatever reference to The Big Book I could muster. I used A.A. literature as a platform, but jumped off at some point in making reference to this quotation, using it to relate to where I was at at the time.

I wasn’t “lost” in the sense that I was losing myself to addiction, and wasn’t sure about how to proceed in recovery, but I was lost in that I had never been to where I was before. I was in new territory, exploring ground which was completely foreign to me. I was in the unknown place of being healthy, productive, and stable, and not being sure of what to do with any of that. Lost in recovery.

Several people came up to me after the meeting, consoling me as if I had just told them I was suicidal. I guess I didn’t do a good enough job in explaining what it was I was trying to communicate.

There’s a different feeling to that quote today, though, as what sits with me is a recognition of how much now calls to go back to the safety of the harbor, rather than once again push off into the sea of the unknown. It calls to me, that “safety,” the allure of the known entity, no matter how little I actually want that sort of “stillness” in my life. It’s a safety I can do without. But how do “you go about finding that thing the nature of which is totally unknown to you?” You let go. Damn, there’s a lot of resistance to that some days.