I got locked out of my apartment today – the batteries in the electronic lock ran out of power. I had to wait half a day for my landlord to return home with a manual key. It simultaneously made me rethink my whole enthusiasm over the internet of things, and seemed like some apt metaphor of my life right now.
I would have gotten irritable and anxious if it happened any other day, but today I learned to surrender to the experience. I have been tired upon returning from a trip to Penang, and all I wanted to do was to curl up in bed, but it seemed like the Universe had other plans. So I curled up in my parents’ apartment instead, and I started reading “A Field Guide to Getting Lost” by Rebecca Solnit. It took just a short while before I started being bemused. The right book always finds a way to appear at the right time. Even if it means getting me locked out.
The things we want are transformative, and we don’t know or only think we know what is on the other side of that transformation. Love, wisdom, grace, inspiration—how do you go about finding these things that are in some ways about extending the boundaries of the self into unknown territory, about becoming someone else?
I intended to publish something entirely different today, and I wrote half of it before deciding to get lunch and getting locked out. I was writing hundreds of words on how detached I feel from this world sometimes, but before I could get to the end of it to click publish, reading a book in-between changed the entire narrative.
I realised I have missed out on a particular nuance – it is my old self that I was detaching from.
For Woolf, getting lost was not a matter of geography so much as identity, a passionate desire, even an urgent need, to become no one and anyone, to shake off the shackles that remind you who you are, who others think you are.
I was walking into unknown territory, and it comes with a feeling of getting lost. Being in limbo can be jarring if we get too attached to the previous destination, but it can be incredibly freeing if we simply surrender.
And there’s another art of being at home in the unknown, so that being in its midst isn’t cause for panic or suffering, of being at home with being lost.
By being too focused on where I want to be, I lose sight of what is being offered to me along the way. Sometimes I am very much in awe of the grandeur of life, if I simply think of the lineage of people who needed to survive in order for my existence today. Other times I feel an ambivalence towards humanity, with a persistent feeling that I don’t actually wish to be here.
Very rarely, just like today, I get a sense of why I am here. I remember the unexplored depths offered to me by the existence of humanity. Just to be here to witness what it means to be part of this beautiful, chaotic evolution, even if it feels strangely foreign to me. I feel soothed by the words strung together by Rebecca Solnit, somehow just knowing that someone like her exists out there, someone I will never get to know and yet she had written words that sing to my soul.
Humanity to me – when I remember – is like a fascinating evolving art form. Sometimes it is violent and ugly, other times so beautiful that only tears are an adequate form of expression.
I can only hope that I will always be blessed enough, like today, to be given the grace to remember.