Getting lost with aplomb

Path in the Wheat Fields at Pourville, Claude Monet, 1882

Sometimes it’s good to wander, to get lost. Jazz musicians know this, as do interesting painters and authors. Of course, this only works if they know how to find their way back home. And it’s that process of discovery that makes the art.

The same can apply to the art of living. Not all the time: as with restringing a guitar or cleaning a palette, sometimes things need to be done efficiently. But pure efficiency is just work by another name. Going for a stroll, allowing yourself to get lost, and then finding your way home, can — depending on how it’s played — be a sure route to relaxation, adventure, or both. It’s also very healthy for the mind: map-reading, spatial awareness, noticing and noting one’s surroundings, resisting a looming 21st century taboo in the form of interacting with strangers in the physical world, etc. Plus, there are all those interesting places and things that you would never have known about if you had stayed A-to-B, if you had remained with the algorithms.

So, we would like to suggest getting lost as being a useful thing to do on a fairly regular basis.

Good ways to get (the right kind of) lost? Well, of course, the first step is putting the smartphone away — assuming you’re still playing for that team. Obtaining a physical map (much more effective than a tiny screen) instead; if you’re getting lost in a city, there may be maps at bus stops, stations, etc. Or maybe a map on a tablet that’s only referred to occasionally. A picnic is always a good idea; preparing one without knowing where it will be consumed is somehow mildly transformative. We’re not going to suggest that anyone goes out with no phone at all, in case of emergencies. So: maybe no phone at all?

And lose yourself with aplomb. Not just in the sense of having self-confidence and assurance despite being lost, but also literally (or literally literally, as we have to say nowadays). The word ‘aplomb’ comes from the French ‘à plomb’, referring to the plumb line that is used to assess verticality. For a trained dancer, aplomb means excellent, straight posture and physical alignment. Posture is both indicative and causative of feeling confident, feeling relaxed, feeling good. So, while enjoying not knowing where you are, allow that screenslouch sag to get lost as well. Enjoy!

Originally published at



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