Why It’s Okay to Be Lost



By Gary Z. McGee



“You are free, and that is why you are lost.” ~Franz Kafka



If you are free, then you will feel lost in a society that is unfree. If you are healthy, then you will feel lost in a society that is unhealthy. If you have reconditioned your cultural conditioning, then you will feel lost in a society that is culturally conditioned.


When you are outflanked by a sick society, rebellion against cultural reasoning is the only reasonable course of action. Hence, your loneliness. Rebellion will always be tainted by the feeling of being lost. And that’s okay, especially when you consider the following words by Krishnamurti, “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”


Contrastingly, it is a measure of health to be lost in a profoundly sick society. Your sense of loneliness is proportional to the courage it takes to rebel against the sickness that surrounds you.


Immanuel Kant said, “All our knowledge begins with the senses, proceeds then to the understanding, and ends with reason. There is nothing higher than reason.” But that is patently false. If understanding ends with reason, then you are stuck with the tyranny of reason that attempts to keep you trapped in the sick society.


There are two things higher than reason: imagination and humor. And it is in imagination and humor where “the lost” might be found.


Reason is important. But it will never be more important than imagination. For reason without imagination has the tendency to fall in upon itself. It eats itself in the maw of its own perceived “truth.” Given enough rope, reason will hang itself in the shadow of its own unwavering ideal. Reason will drown in its own reasoning. That is, unless imagination can regain the upper hand and pull it out of deep water.


How does imagination regain the upper hand? Through a good sense of humor. Humor dethrones hubris. It always has and it always will. Humor acts as a skyhook that unhooks the prideful from the fishing line of the sick society. Suddenly unfettered, one is free to swim in the open waters of imagination. The comfort zone snaps. Boundaries are transformed into horizons. The sickness is seen for what it is: pride in an irresponsible and fear-based way of living.


Hubris is in lockstep with reason. The reasoning that led to the sick society is the hubris which that society clings to. In such a state, only a good sense of humor can lift (skyhook) the prideful out of his settled pride and into a higher state of unsettled imagination.


Only in a state of unsettled imagination can he who was once sick see the bigger picture enough to understand why he is sick.


Therefore, all our knowledge begins with the senses, proceeds then to cultural conditioning, and ends with the cultures reasoning, unless a healthy person emerges and uses a good sense of humor to break the spell and thus enter a state of openness (imagination) to higher reasoning.


As Ram Dass said, “Faith is not belief. Faith is what is left when your beliefs have all been blown to hell.”


Indeed. When your belief in your cultural conditioning is blown to hell, all you have left is faith. Faith in the unknown. Faith in your good sense of humor. Faith in your imagination. Faith that being lost to a profoundly sick society is preferrable to being trapped by it.


And that’s okay. Your freedom is your new bedrock. On which anything can be built. Armed with a good sense of humor and a good imagination you now have the power to get power over power itself. You get ahead of the curve. Your freedom becomes a surfboard on which you are free to surf over all preconceived power structures. Nothing is unconquerable. Including your Self.


Indeed. You have to feel “lost” in order to feel the real You as you. You are a microcosm within a macrocosm. You can no more separate the micro from the macro than you can the human from the cosmos; both are needed to put the whole into holistic. You are a desperate tiny thing in an otherwise indifferent universe, but you are also an aspect of the universe. As such, it is your responsibility alone to act on behalf of the universe in which you are a part.


And there is no higher sign of self-responsibility than courage, humor, and imagination in the face of fear, hubris, and reason.


The only way not to become fixed in any set pattern (pride, certainty, or reason), is to question your cultural conditioning. Shine your darkness into the blinding light. Keep imagination ahead of reason. Keep curiosity ahead of certainty. Recondition your cultural conditioning.


The ego is just as likely to get lost in the light as in the dark. When you are healthy, you give people hope by becoming a beacon of light in the darkness. When you are free, you give people courage by becoming a beacon of darkness in the blinding light. In both cases egoism is put in checkmate.


Do not fret. Do not balk. There is adventure to be had. There is heroism to be mined from Plato’s Cave. The upside of uncertainty is that your imagination becomes supple. Having lost your certainty, you may feel lost, but sometimes you must be lost to discover something that has never been found.


As Lorca said, “I’ve often lost myself in order to find the burn that keeps everything awake.”


“Lost” outside of your preconceived certainty, the unexpected is brought to the fore. Curiosity is unleashed. Magic is let loose. You become startled by the truth, mesmerized by the mystery, astonished by the animating principle of life living itself through you. Your life becomes your highest art, an immortality project for the ages.


Everything is within you: demon and diamond, love and loss, power and pain, laughter and anxiety. Say yes to it all. Shirk nothing. Don’t lie to yourself. You are not going to live forever. You are lost. You are a butterfly in a tsunami, but at least you are no longer a caterpillar trapped in a delusion. Don’t fight it. Surrender. Let it guide you. Let it drive you. Let it teach you. Become one with the tempest.


As Rumi said, “Doing as others told me, I was blind. Coming when others called me, I was lost. Then I left everyone, myself as well. Then I found everyone, myself as well.”


Image source: Linear Progress by Beeple


About the Author:


Gary Z McGee, a former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide-awake view of the modern world.


This article (Why It’s Okay to Be Lost) was originally created and published by Self-inflicted Philosophy and is printed here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Gary Z McGee and self-inflictedphilosophy.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this statement of copyright.