“i’m just going to sit here past late
the stars don’t care at what cost
you breathe while i whisper a song
‘this accident of being lost’”
-Leanne Simpson, This Accident of Being Lost
Lately I’ve been working at getting lost. Which is probably the problem, and shows the silliness of all my self-important determination.
It’s not street-lost I want. I could probably do that. I could wander down some roads, have a friend drop me off somewhere, find my way back. But returning to this particular house isn’t the “coming back” I’m looking for, so that’s not the “lost” I mean. I mean—I mean lying down in a field, and not moving, because for a moment—with the swaying grass, and the beetles, and the clouds—I’ve forgotten how.
A few weeks ago, a friend asked me to explain poetry. She studies plant physiology, and hopes to help explain to the public what climate change is doing and will do to the landscapes around us. So I told her, ‘When you’re talking to a group and they just don’t see the prairie, even though it’s right there, then maybe you could read them a poem.’ She said that made sense, but when I pushed it, when I told her a poem can help me step outside and get lost in the garden (she’s a big gardener), she said,
“But that happens.”
“It does?” I asked, because somehow, focused on my explanation, that surprised me.
“Yeah,” she said. “Especially if I’m planting. Or cleaning up leaves.”
Later, when I told her I was writing this, she laughed and asked if it would screw up my blog to admit that she’d been thinking about it, and that she “liked poetry,” she “thought it was probably a good lens to seem some specific part of all this beauty.” I told her it wouldn’t. But I’ve been thinking, too, and I’ve realized I was working at getting lost. You don’t work at the ocean holding you. You step into the ocean, and it does. I was working, trying, instead of letting myself be lost. It’s an accident, says Simpson, and in her book she also seems to say that being lost is the door we step through, or maybe, better, the ground we grow in, so that one day we might be found. It’s the place we start. As long as I’m walking the paths I know, expecting and sure of where I’m going, I won’t find my way to—what? Another? Myself? The world?
Who knows. I’m not sure there are words for it. It’s probably more a thing of silences, like the wind across the stones or the footsteps of the rain when you look up and realize, oh, here I am. Here I am I don’t know where. Instead of trying to follow my trail or blunder off it, I’m trying to sit here, to realize that I’m already, on accident, finally, fully, lovingly l—