In this age of GPS navigation, the act of getting lost has itself been lost. Think for a moment about the last time you genuinely ended up somewhere without knowing where you were. There are many forms of being lost and the perception of what it means undoubtedly has changed over the years. The availability of an all-knowing device in your pocket, the amount of information around you and the extensive network of public transportation, makes being lost less serious. Bringing being lost back to the old days is quite complicated in a world where information is all around you. So, how does one knowingly get lost?
There are several strategies, but this is the one that worked for me:
1. Find a vague indication of where you want to be heading, preferably by bike. The first game I played was cycling from Delft to a village a bit outside Delft. For a higher chance of getting lost, consider a residential, not touristic location. In the case of Delft, this could be Maasland, Bergschenhoek, Monster, etc.
2. Don’t look at maps! Not during your attempt, not beforehand, never. Additionally, avoid looking at signs. This will be quite hard, but you must try. They just give too much information away. However, bring your phone with you anyways, just in case things actually get out of hand.
You’ve succeeded when you come to a point where you don’t know how to get back and have the slightest clue of your location. You will find out that the more you play this game, the more difficult it becomes to get lost. Once you get familiar around a particular place, the chance of getting lost drops drastically. In that case, you will have to go to even more alien places. The world is your oyster at that point.
The first time I tried to get lost, I aimed for Berkel en Rodenrijs, but in that area is not very challenging to keep track of where you are. So I kept going and ended up in Rotterdam, which seemed not very challenging either at first. I tried again, until the point that I was almost lost. Almost, since I noticed a somewhat familiar railway bridge in the distance. The train station in Rotterdam-Noord. Damnit. It took another 30 minutes, but eventually, I succeeded: I was completely lost! It happened somewhere around the Insulindeplein in Rotterdam, after taking a ‘wrong’ turn. It is a weird feeling, one of distress and joy combined, but boy, I sure was glad.
What to take from this? I think that we are so used to moving around in a city with a purpose, that we’ve lost the skill of looking. Being lost forces you to look around with all your senses and therefore opens up a whole new world. It makes you vulnerable but connects you to your environment at the same time. So next time you are in a new place or city, you have a choice; do you take the standard way of moving around, or do you challenge yourself with an adventure into the unknown?