A Book I’d Make My Teenage Children Read

by joanabagano

Thought I’d dedicate this post to just one book.


A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit

Dear earthling,

A picture of me and your grandma always comes to mind when I encounter the word ‘lost’. It was one of those busy days at the marketplace when every section was teeming not only with flies but with people asking for discounts from annoyed vendors. I was holding on to my dear mother’s arm so tightly, afraid that anyone would grab me from behind and pull me away. I didn’t get separated from my mother in that manner but my frail six-year old hands naturally lost her to the push and pull of the crowd. After a few minutes, I saw a familiar arm in the sea of sweat and dust so I grabbed on to it like dear life. It turned out to be another woman who, thank God, was graceful enough to ask me what was wrong. I live now to testify that I was brought back to my mother in one piece on that fateful afternoon.

I will lose you. I know that. I will lose a tiny piece of you every time you go to school in the morning and come back in the afternoon, telling me stories of how your day went, what you have shared to your friends and what I missed out. I will lose even more pieces of you as you grow up and discover things I never expected you would do. You will lose me too, as the days and the months and the years pull us apart. In the end, though, I hope that you will find a familiar arm and a graceful voice that will lead you back to me.

We may lose each other, but we will never be fully lost. I pray that you will find that feeling of home wherever you may be led.

For me, childhood roaming was what developed self-reliance, a sense of direction and adventure, imagination, a will to explore, to be able to get a little lost and then figure out the way back.

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.

The art is not one of forgetting but letting go. And when everything else is gone, you can be rich in loss.