Friday, March 16, 2018


I get a perverse pleasure in confusing the GPS in my car. I will enter HOME as my destination and then drive somewhere else. My GPS panics, spins, tries to find a new route in the right direction. I can imagine all the little techies inside waving frantically at me.

In an unfamiliar place, I find the GPS of great benefit. When I plug in the destination, ramp up the sound, the voice guidance gets me where I want to go. Except there are exceptions. I went to a calligraphy conference near Seattle. I put in the name of the college and listened attentively to the voice as it directed me to the wrong place: a dead-end street next to Puget Sound. If the GPS hadn't led me astray, I would never have realized how close and beautiful the Sound was to my destination.

There is a value in being lost.

I have been lost in Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Paris, where I found new places not did not appear on a map or in a guide. There is also a value in getting lost even in the place where you have lived for a long time.

I forgot to look at my GPS halfway to the freeway in the Oakland hills. I'm glad I did. I knew basically where I was going, but I didn't expect to find the hidden village of Montclair, which appeared, just like magic, in front of me. Montclair consists of a few close streets, with several crowded cafes, independent stores, posters advertising local events, and people walking or stopping to talk with each other. The kind of place that makes a community lively and engaging for its residents.

In my old car without GPS, I went to visit a friend. I tried to reach her house by going in reverse from the way I had gone the week before. I missed the last left-hand turn that would have taken me to her house. Once past the street, there was nowhere to turn around, so I found myself driving down a winding hillside road. I felt lost in the woods as I drove down. No other cars drove by and the vegetation was as wild as could be near an East Bay suburb. At the bottom, I came to the San Pablo Dam Reservoir, a large body of blue water. I was on an adventure.

I kept following the road, now called Wildcat Canyon Road, up to the top of the Berkeley hills. I took a right on to Grizzly Peak Road, another narrow, winding street near Tilden Park and the Berkeley Rose Garden, past charming houses till I came to Marin Avenue. Another left, and I found myself driving straight down one of the steepest streets I've ever been on. Each time I crested an intersection, I felt the same stomach-churning feeling of a roller coaster ride. Luckily for me, each intersection had a stop sign or I could see myself sailing high off the road to land on the next section of hill.

Thanks to AAA who still offer paper maps.

With GPS or without, I find a value in getting lost. Being lost and finding my way, means I have to trust myself, follow my instincts, ask for help, and always look back where I came from.


I just finished a book by Robert Moor called On Trails, where he thinks deeply about the value of trails, how they originate and what we would be without them. Good read.


  1. When my husband says we are lost, I always counter with "No, we are just not sure where we are". Stumbling over new places and also how places we have always visited individually connect is always exciting.

    Sorry about the comments by anonymous. Keep on giving us this wonderful Friday gift or art and comment.

  2. What about your friend? Did she or he worry that you were lost? Inquiring minds want to know...

    1. I'm glad you mentioned my friend. We had agreed that if I didn't arrive at a specific time that she would leave. We met up at the workshop when we both arrived. She came a lot earlier than I did.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. We never get lost, we just take alternative routes.
    All part of the adventure. I have seen so many beautiful sights this way ↗↘↩↪⤴⤵

    1. Thanks, Jacki, I agree -- adventures await on new trails and paths.


Thank you for commenting! I love hearing from readers. I answer each one.

I do not post Anonymous comments because of problems with spammers.