02 December 2008

Not Knowing

Though it seem strange to tell that I enjoyed the experience, I got lost yesterday. People are apt to take it the wrong way if you say, Get lost, but if you can arrange to do so in a way which is not worrisome, permit me to recommend the exercise without reservation.

I had dropped Maria and Irina off, and started driving back home, in a part of the state no great distance from home (and yet, not particularly familiar to me), and I took a wrong turn. It was a turn I knew might be mistaken, but I took the turn not caring. (The absence of care was not reckless, only low-level adventurous.) It may be the very same wrong turn I may have taken eight years ago, who knows?

I had, not all day, but certainly ample time. I needed to get back to town to pick up a fellow musician for a concert that afternoon, but I was not going to get lost to any degree as to strain our timeline. And even if I had taken the most direct route home, there would not have been so much time to allow me to get anything productive accomplished. It was a relaxed (if not altogether recreational) time. I was negotiating a half- (or quarter-) familiar maze, and I didn’t care about any cheese at the goal.

I had been lost in a much more concerning way this past summer. As a result of a surprising and unpleasant event, I went from a state of musical productivity, and keen readiness to pursue the next task, to a condition of apparent incapacity for any creative work, for about five weeks. It was a very strange time.

Didn’t know why I couldn’t work; nor did I know what it would take to get back to work. In spite of the obvious annoyance of knowing myself to be in such a condition, I knew it wasn’t going to last forever.

In a way, getting lost driving yesterday was a relaxing ritual shadow of the creative abyss I experienced in the summer. The inability to compose was vexatious, and as I was driving yesterday, momentarily unsure of the way home, I understand how completely free of vexation this situation was. Probably that is the closest I can come to explaining why I actually enjoyed being lost yesterday.

There is an outdoorsy recreation, a game of chess in which there are human ‘gamepieces’, who move from square to square as directed by the actual players. If you’re a piece (a rook, a bishop) you take part in the game, and yet none of the responsibility for the game’s outcome rests on your shoulders. That’s not a great analogy (for I was driving, and I got lost as a result of my own mis-navigation), but it does give some idea of the tone in which I lost my way yesterday.

If you can get lost like that, embrace the wrong turn.


J.Z. Herrenberg said...

I must say, Karl, you really are a most articulate composer. Keep writing.

Cato said...

Daniel Boone's famous comment comes to mind that he was never lost, but once he was "a might bewildered."

While living in Atlanta, I was constantly getting lost, because too many streets subtly curve around like Celtic snakes on a medieval manuscript. They also at times - illogically - suddenly change names when you cross an intersection. So you could drive straight on Smith Street and be looking for an address, but then you discover you are on Jones Street, because Smith St. went off to the right at the last intersection at a definite 90 degree angle.

A map was essential!

Here in Ohio things are more logical, although it is possible here in Columbus to drive east on West North Broadway!

Karl Henning said...

My favorite street changing names on crossing an intersection here in Boston is Winter Street, which is just one block running from Tremont to Washington Street; when you've crossed Washington, it becomes Summer Street.

And, thank you kindly, Johan!