Transitions, part 2: 21 thoughts on how to be lost
"An incomplete collection of potentially imprecise and contradictory field notes on how to be lost, or how I tried to be lost"
Recovering is a free and paid weekly newsletter. If you just want to check it out and read free offerings, you can become a free subscriber. If you find yourself reading this regularly and get something from it, consider becoming a patron. If you cannot afford a subscription, email email@example.com and let me know you can’t afford it and want full access.
“More often, we need to leave the old without any promise of the new, need to spend time as forest dwellers, just surviving.” - Marianne Woodman
This is a continuation of this column—the second installation of a three-part series on transitions.
This piece has been a slog. It’s also extremely long and I would caution against reading it all at once?
What I set out to write (“A list of the things I found useful over the course of a life transition that seemed to have no end or purpose”, as promised here) sounded doable. I used to be good at listicles, and if you were to come to me and say “I feel like I’m in between two lives can you give me some advice?” I’d make you a spreadsheet. In other words, telling you ‘here’s what I did to manage a really long liminal period’ felt like a very easy and potentially fun exercise, like I was going to make you a list of the best churches to visit in Rome.
But then that simple list turned into a brain dump of the notes I took and the articles I clipped over a two-year period in an effort to make sense of what was happening to me (feeling lost/unmoored/directionless/existential dread for an ‘excessive’ amount of time), and what was happening to the world (everyone and everything appearing to be extremely fucked up), and because both of these things are still mysteries to me (myself, the world), the list of “things” propagated from ten to 20 to 30 and then blurred into something else. Trying to write this piece was like trying to bake a cake when I hadn’t stirred the batter, or like trying to make my brain work in a way it now refuses to. I cannot simplify, boil down, or arrive at universal truths the way I once could.
So. I don’t have “a list of things that I found useful over the course of a life transition that seemed to have no end or purpose”; what I have instead are some tools and some advice I would have given myself if I’d had it, but mostly a lot of thoughts I wrestled with, ideas I developed, patterns I observed, and changes I witnessed, during the period of time when my life was chronically in-between and the rest of the world seemed that way, too.
So. Take this less as some definitive list or set of truths; treat it more like a non-linear, incomplete collection of potentially imprecise and contradictory field notes on how to be lost, or how I tried to be lost. Be assured this is a mess of thoughts, and it absolutely should have been broken up into smaller essays.
Rudolph Bahro said “When the forms of an old culture are dying, the new culture is created by a few people who are not afraid to be insecure,” and Krishnamurti said, “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” The final thing I’ll say about this specific piece: I am not trying to help you feel better, or make something more of your confusion or in-betweenness, should that be where you are. Instead, my point (in this piece, in general) is: I think the future of our society, culture, species, and planet depends on the extent to which we all allow our identities to be destroyed and ourselves to be lost. Which is to say, if you’re feeling ungrounded or lost or in-between, I think that just means you’re a fertile patch of ground the world desperately needs, and I’m so sorry and happy for you.
Finally: Much has been written on this topic, and I’ve read a nice portion of it. There’s a resource list at the bottom, and please feel free to add yours in the comments.