Yesterday, Athena and I got lost.
Not really lost, but lost enough that I actually wondered where the hell I was a few times. It turns out that Lake Sammamish State Park is a whole lot bigger than I thought it was. At 512 acres with over a mile of waterfront, I now understand how we could meander 3.2 miles through the park and still not hit any boundaries.
That’s not really the whole point of this post though. I was inspired to write this because, well, I enjoyed getting lost, and I fully intend to do it again.
We spend our lives tethered to machines that are supposed to make our lives easier.
They don’t though, and the smarter our smartphones get, the more I despise them. This may surprise some who know me and the love affair I’ve had with technology for most of my life, but in reality I now know enough about technology that the relentless technological advances humanity is making scare the living shit out of me. Beyond that, it’s beyond tiresome to always be checking something – Email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – to see how I can connect to the world, all the while ignoring the connections that are quite literally right in front of me.
Don’t get me wrong; technology is nifty. I’m glad I live in a time that I can take a four and a half ounce device with me wherever I go that will answer almost any question that pops into stunning existence in my mind, take gorgeous pictures in almost any lighting conditions without me having to think about it, and direct me wherever I want to go through the use of a satellite based navigation system that took an unknowable number of man hours and tens of billions of dollars in capital to create. All the pictures in this post would have been drastically more difficult without that device. I’m honestly doubtful they would even exist if I had to carry around a bulky camera, buy film, and either pay to have the pictures developed or develop them myself.
I do worry though. I worry that humanity is taking our one shot and fucking it up. We’re at a point in civilization where if we fall off this relentless uphill battle to master the universe with technology, I don’t believe we’d ever get back. We’ve built our current societies on disposable technologies, where every advance essentially requires us to burn the fields behind us, allowing no retreat. If the human race stutters and falls for any length of time, there are a huge number of fundamental technologies that I would be surprised if we could recreate. I’m digressing from the topic at hand though, and will save that train of thought for another post.
Wherein I explain my point.
I enjoyed getting lost because wandering through muddy fields, chasing birds on the beach, and finally recognizing some landmarks after I’d gone far enough… those had value. I worked for all of them. The pictures in this post are nice reminders of that, but that’s all they are: reminders. They don’t have any intrinsic value to me, didn’t take more than the barest amount of effort to create, and they’ll end up in a folder with tens of thousands of other photographs I’ve taken on the spur of the moment. If they weren’t in this post I likely would have never seen them again.
See, when Athena and I were wandering yesterday (and she wasn’t harassing a kind northern European family out on a biking adventure in the muddy fields or trying to eat the poop of various animals), I thought back to what I remember of my childhood and remembered feeling more connected than I do today, even though I now have the entire sum of recorded human knowledge available at my fingertips 24/7. I remembered the incredible feeling of finding paths where I thought none existed, and the feeling of discovering something new on my own instead of just looking up the answer. It was then that I realized I enjoyed getting lost. I could have used my phone to use GPS to guide me back to the beginning, but then I would have lost something in the experience, and I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to practice my navigation skills.
I missed those feelings without even fully realizing it. So I shall start getting lost more, wandering for the sake of wandering to find things I don’t know exist. I’m not stupid, so I’ll take some basic supplies when I go in the future, but I am most definitely looking forward to asking myself “OK Jeremy, where are we now?” again.