What happens when you go looking for nothing? You might see a red fox in downtown San Francisco.

Intentionally losing yourself feels exhilarating, terrifying, and gratifying all at once.  It feels like jumping onto a metro train not knowing where it will take you and hopping off at a random stop because the houses look pretty.  Or like the feeling of wandering through a park for hours every day in an attempt to know all of its lines and zig zags and trees, knowing you haven’t even seen a sliver.  Or like the feeling of slinging a backpack on and way-warding through foreign lands, mountains, deserts, or wherever your feet are being called toward.

Getting lost gifts you new insights.  Stories like Siddhartha and The Alchemist teach us that you must lose yourself to find your way home.  A time period of wandering movement becomes a necessary part to understanding our depths, in part because it is while we are lost that we are open to looking at things that we wouldn’t normally see.

I recently ventured to get lost for hours everyday in Golden Gate Park  for about a week. One evening, my randomized footsteps led me to a calm, giant pond, surrounded by a path and trees. It was dusk and completely isolated (and eerie knowing I was actually located in the middle of San Francisco). Out of the corner of my eye I saw a brownish-red colored object about 70 feet away from me.  Haha, I thought, it must be a red fox!

Here is the part where I should mention that I had just seen the movie Wild based on the book by Cheryl Strayed about a woman who hikes much of the Pacific Crest Trail alone and was intrigued with her companion hallucination of a red fox. So it only made sense that I too would see a red fox, meeting my spirit animal alone at dusk in the middle of over 800,000 inhabitants.

And then I thought, get real, its just a tree stump.

I started walking the other way when my mind shifted again, thinking if it is a tree stump, why don’t I just make sure.  As I started to move closer, the would-be tree stump got up and bounded away with its bushy tail bobbing behind it.

I couldn’t believe it.  It was a red fox.

Sometimes in the midst of normal life we only look for what we want to see or what we think we should be seeing.  Getting lost allows us to wander through our own liminal realms where we receive gifts of knowing that this world is full of fortuitous moments to snap us out of “normal life.” When we open our wandering path and change our vision to look for something ridiculous/silly/meeting-our-spirit-animal-in-downtown-SF, we may come into contact with these in-between spaces where time freezes and we know the world becomes the most unforeseen/beautiful/synchronistic way we can imagine it.

Later that night a Google search showed me that indeed red foxes were being spotted again in the park, although this observance was incredibly rare.  A chance opportunity had graced me, but only because my mind allowed me to walk that in-between space, that place where you might just catch a glimpse of the illusive red fox in Golden Gate Park.

When’s the last time you purposefully got lost?  Share below.

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