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I am known for having a very poor sense of direction. You know when people say, “You can’t possibly get lost on that route?” I take some pride in being the person who absolutely can get lost on that route.

Once, I got lost on a canal.

Sometimes, my lack of direction is limiting. And I spent many years judging myself mightily for the failing it represents. I’ve also learned that it can be a gift, leading me to unexpected places and new people. Recently, I spent some time in a Spanish coastal city. One of my great pleasures was to wander the streets of the old town with no idea of where I was going. It led me to a hidden hammam on the edge of that quarter, to a tiny antiquarian book store with a copy of Don Quixote from 1780 safely behind glass, and to the best anchoas del cantábrico I have ever tasted.

Sometimes, we have to get lost a little in order to be surprised. And sometimes, loss creeps up on us, uninvited, making us lose our bearings.

This year the musician Nick Cave and the actor Brad Pitt are showing a series of sculptural works alongside the artist Thomas Houseago. Cave and Pitt have both spoken of being lost, unsure of how to find their way back to themselves, or to creative fulfilment. A series of meetings led them to each other, and to Houseago, and to new forms, new art, new discoveries. Pitt and Cave are often referred to as the greatest artists of their generation in their respective disciplines, which, as we know, isn’t sculpture. Yet in order to find some new energy, some new life, new solace – they each had to lose what they knew.


They had to become novices. Had to lose their way a little.

What would happen to you, if you let go of what you know about your own creativity? If you let yourself be a little lost?

What else might be waiting for you? What magnificent discoveries are lurking down those other avenues, the ones you’ve never explored?

Today, try and un-know. Try to let go of your own excellence and become a lost novice, an ingenue.

If fiction has been the thing you love to make, try to write a scene of a play. Or a haiku. If poetry is your thing, the thing you believe is your art – try a story, or a memoir-essay, or an outline for a sitcom. Surprise yourself by changing the form or the rules.

Take it further if you can, by stepping away from the pen.

Play with some clay.

Or get a canvas, acrylics and brushes from your local art store (or your local dollar store), put some music on and start messing with paint. In fact, make the music yourself – get that guitar out and see what sounds you can make. Or the kazoo. Or coconuts.
Choreograph a dance.
Make some puppets….

What if what you think you know about yourself as an artist isn’t the whole truth?
Let yourself be lost today. Because then you can find what else, and who else, you are.


Today’s prompt:

These are the things I lost….