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A Field Guide to Getting Lost - Rebecca Solnit



Título original: A Field Guide To Getting Lost
Año: 2005
Páginas: 206
Género: No ficción, Ensayo, Memorias, Filosofía
Editorial: Canongate Books

"In this investigation into loss, losing and being lost, Rebeca Solnit explores the challenges of living with uncertainty.

A Field Guide to Getting Lost takes in subjects as eclectic as memory and mapmaking, Hitchcock movies and Renaissance painting. 

Beautifully written, this book combines memoir, history and philosophy, shedding glittering new light on the way we live now." 
Estas páginas se me atravesaron en París, cuando fui a Shakespeare and Company a hacer la visita obligada en nuestro itinerario. El azul me atrapó, me distraje de la fila interminable de personas y del calor asfixiante de agosto. Me sentí llamada a este libro y, aunque ya llevaba un libro bajo el brazo, no dudé en llevármelo también. Pensé que me traería calma tras alguna tormenta, y no sabía yo que tan previsoras iban a ser mis palabras.

El libro me acompañó en mis lecturas matinales antes de entrar a trabajar, en paradas de autobús, en el tren, tumbada en la cama de mi hogar y de casas que siempre tendrán abierta su puerta para mí. Fue el ancla que necesitaba mientras, a mi alrededor, todo se movía vertiginosamente. El ancla que me aferró para recuperar mi centro de gravedad. 

Su lectura debe saborearse, entenderse. Se debe parar cuando la reflexión lo requiera, apuntar en los márgenes o en un cuaderno lo que está removiendo, lo que te hace vibrar. El acompañante ideal para cuando estás de tránsito o en una ciudad desconocida, y te pierdes entre calles cuyo nombre ignoras, en esquinas sin dueño. Para acompañar el desayuno o el café de media tarde, el dulce complemento al té negro de una mañana fría, en la que un jerséi parece poca cobertura a la gelidez del exterior.

Cada capítulo es único en sí mismo, y a la vez está íntimamente ligado con el resto. 
¿Cómo encontrarse a uno mismo cuando no sabes quién eres? ¿Cómo llenar el vacío cuando no sabes qué forma tiene el hueco? Buscar la paz sin saber su forma, sin conocer el descanso del cuerpo y el alma, saber acomodar los golpes de la vida sin que te desequilibre. Buscamos en la transformación, sin saber si “eso” está al otro lado. La mayoría de los encuentros, incluso en uno mismo, ocurren al expandirnos, al abrirnos a lo desconocido. Difuminar nuestros límites, la frontera que ponemos con el mundo.

Calcular lo inesperado, reconocer que existe, que sucede, que afecta, pero que el equilibrio se mantenga. Quizá en esta tormenta que no amaina es el mayor aprendizaje que debo hacer. Encontrarme en las sombras y saberme segura. Adaptabilidad. No encontrar tu destino no es lo mismo que perderse en la ciudad –el tipo de turismo que me encanta y donde hallo el verdadero pálpito de donde me encuentro—. Un acto consciente, el de diluirse en un paisaje desconocido, con los sentidos totalmente localizados en la extrañeza, lo no cotidiano. Una manera de rendirse al paisaje.

El vacío es lo que queda de una ausencia. La evidencia de que alguna vez algo ocupó ese agujero que ahora se antoja desolador. Si dentro sentimos vacío, será que antes había algo en ese espacio, ¿qué había antes?

El pasado y el presente son diferentes. Lo que fui y lo que soy, también. Sin embargo, hay una relación a veces imperceptible que no se debe ignorar, como dos manos que se entrelazan, independientes pero unidas por una conexión irrefutable.

Hablas con mi voz. Tu búsqueda es la misma meta que ansío: conocer de dónde vengo sin que la ilusión, la mentira o la invención llenen de recuerdos falsos el camino que me ha traído al mundo, a existir. También he meditado, como Rebecca, sobre cómo el madurar de golpe me ha hecho pausada, demasiado precavida, y cómo me ha faltado el descontrol, el éxtasis de la irracionalidad. Como ella, he perdido muchas aventuras, pero también me he ahorrado dolor y miseria

Viajo en tren y leo “nuestra vida hace su propio mapa”, y no puedo estar más de acuerdo. Aquí y ahora, trazando la ruta entre el hogar propio, el que he construido, y el hogar sanguíneo, del que vengo y del que parezco existir eternamente separada.


Citas


(P. 4) “Leave the door open for the unknown, the door into the dark. That’s where the most important things come from, where you yourself came from, and where you will go.”

 (P.4) “How will you go about finding that thing the nature of which is totally unknown to you?" (Plato)

(P. 5) "The things we want are transformative, and we don’t know or only think we know what is on the other side of that transformation. Love, wisdom, grace, inspiration- how do you go about finding these things that are in some ways about extending the boundaries of the self into unknown territory, about becoming someone else?”

(P. 5) "Certainly for artists of all stripes, the unknown, the idea or the form or the tale that has not arrived, is what must be found. It is the job of artists to open doors and invite in prophesies, the unknown, the unfamiliar; it’s where their work comes from, although its arrival signals the beginning of the long disciplined process of making it their own"

(P. 5-6) “How do you calculate upon the unforeseen? It seems to be an art of recognizing the role of the unforeseen, of keeping your balance amid surprises, of collaborating with chance, of recognizing that there are some essential mysteries in the world and thereby a limit to calculation, to plan, to control. To calculate on the unforeseen is perhaps exactly the paradoxical operation that life most requires of us.”

(P. 6) “Not to find one’s way in a city may well be uninteresting and banal. It requires ignorance—nothing more," says the twentieth-century philosopher-essayist Walter Benjamin. “But to lose oneself in a city—as one loses oneself in a forest—that calls for quite a different schooling.” To lose yourself: a voluptuous surrender, lost in your arms, lost to the world, utterly immersed in what is present so that its surroundings fade away. In Benjamin’s terms, to be lost is to be fully present, and to be fully present is to be capable of being in uncertainty and mystery. And one does not get lost but loses oneself, with the implication that it is a conscious choice, a chosen surrender, a psychic state achievable through geography.”

(P. 6) “That thing the nature of which is totally unknown to you is usually what you need to find, and finding it is a matter of getting lost.

(P. 13) "Times when some architectural detail or vista has escaped me these many years says to me that I never did know where I was, even when I was home."

(P. 14) "(…) their most important skill was simply a sense of optimism about surviving and finding their way. Lost (…) was mostly a state of mind."

(P. 16) “Getting lost was not a matter of geography so much as identity, a passionate desire, even an urgent need, to become no one and anyone, to shake off the shackles that remind you who you are, who others think you are.”

(P. 22) "Like cards, flora and fauna could be read again and again, not only alone but in combination, in the endlessly shifting combinations of a nature that tells its own stories and colors ours, a nature we are losing without even knowing the extent of that loss.”

(P. 22) "Or you get lost, in which case the world has become larger than your knowledge of it."

(P. 23) "Of course, to forget the past is to lose the sense of loss that is also memory of an absent richness and a set of clues to navigate the present by; the art is not one of forgetting but letting go. And when everything else is gone, you can be rich in loss."

(P. 29) "For many years, I have been moved by the blue at the far edge of what can be seen, that color of horizons, of remote mountain ranges, of anything far away. The color of that distance is the color of an emotion, the color of solitude and of desire, the color of there seen from here, the color of where you are not. And the color of where you can never go. For the blue is not in the place those miles away at the horizon, but in the atmospheric distance between you and the mountains.”

(P. 30) "We treat desire as a problem to be solved, address what desire is for and focus on that something and how to acquire it rather than on the nature and the sensation of desire, though often it is the distance between us and the object of desire that fills the space in between with the blue of longing. I wonder sometimes whether with a slight adjustment of perspective it could be cherished as a sensation on its own terms, since it is as inherent to the human condition as blue is to distance? If you can look across the distance without wanting to close it up, if you can own your longing in the same way that you own the beauty of that blue that can never be possessed? For something of this longing will, like the blue of distance, only be relocated, not assuaged, by acquisition and arrival, just as the mountains cease to be blue when you arrive among them and the blue instead tints the next beyond. Somewhere in this is the mystery of why tragedies are more beautiful than comedies and why we take a huge pleasure in the sadness of certain songs and stories. Something is always far away. "

(P. 30) "The far seeps in even to the nearest. After all we hardly know our own depths."

(P. 38) “When I first began to write, I had been a child for most of my life, and my childhood memories were vivid and potent, and the forces that shaped me, Most of them have grown fainter with time, and whenever I write one down, I give it away: it ceases to have the shadowy life of memory and becomes fixed in letters: it ceases to be mine; it loses that mobile unreliability of the live.”

(P. 39) "There is no distance in childhood (…). Whatever is absent is impossible, irretrievable, unreachable.

(P. 39) “The blue of distance comes with time, with the discovery of melancholy, of loss, the texture of longing, of the complexity of the terrain we traverse, and with the years of travel.  If sorrow and beauty are all tied up together, then perhaps maturity brings with it not what Nabhan calls abstraction, but an aesthetic sense that partially redeems the losses time brings and finds beauty in the faraway. ”

(P. 47) "A case could be made that they would have been better off melting into the landscape as no doubt many now forgotten did, adopting native tongues, stories, places to love, ceasing to be exiles by ceasing to remember the country they were exiled from so that they could wholly embrace the country they were in. Only by losing that past would they lose the condition of exile, for the place they were exiled from no longer existed, and they were no longer the people who had left it"

(P. 51) "(…) emptiness can be compared to the impression of something that used to be there."

(P. 57) “There are fossils of seashells high in the Himalayas; what was and what is are different things.”

(P. 58-59) "I think sometimes that I became a historian because I didn’t have a history, but also because I was interested in telling the truth in a family in which truth was an elusive entity. It could best be served not by claiming an authoritative and disinterested relationship to the facts, but by disclosing your own desires and agendas, for truth lies not only in incidents but in hopes and needs. The histories I’ve written have often been hidden, lost, neglected, too broad, or too amorphous to show up in other’s radar screens, histories that are not neat fields that belong to someone but the paths and waterways that meander through many fields and belong to no one"

(P. 71) "(…) he ceased to be lost not by returning but by turning into something else."

(P. 80) "These captives lay out in a stark and dramatic way what goes on in every life: the transitions whereby you cease to be who you were. Seldom is it as dramatic, but nevertheless, something of this journey between the near and the far goes on in every life. Sometimes an old photograph, an old friend, an old letter will remind you that you are not who you once were, for the person who dwelt among them, valued this, chose that, wrote thus, no longer exists. Without noticing it you have traversed a great distance; the strange has become familiar and the familiar if not strange at least awkward or uncomfortable, an outgrown garment. "

(P. 81) "The people thrown into other cultures go through something of the anguish of the butterfly, whose body must disintegrate and reform more than once in its life cycle."

(P. 83) "The process of transformation consists mostly of decay and then of this crisis when emergence from what came before must be total and abrupt."

(P. 92) "All through childhood you grow toward life and then in adolescence, at the height of life, you begin to grow toward death. This fatality is felt as an enlargement to be welcomed and embraced, for the young in this culture enter adulthood as a prison, and death reassures them that there are exits. "

(P. 106) “In the same way, teenagers imagine dying young because death is more imaginable than the person that all the decisions and burdens of adulthood may make of you.”

(P. 108-109) "Adulthood is made up of a prudent anticipation and a philosophical memory that make you navigate more slowly and steadily. But fear of making mistakes can itself become a huge mistake, one that prevents you from living, for life is risky and anything less is already loss. I missed a lot of adventures that way early on, but I know that there were many paths I could have taken, and madness and misery lay down some of them."

(P. 117) “Perhaps it’s that you can’t go back in time, but you can return to the scenes of a love, of a crime, of happiness, and of a fatal decision; the places are what remain, are what you can possess, are what is immortal. They become the tangible landscape of memory, the places that made you, and in some way you too become them. They are what you can possess and in the end what possesses you.”

(P. 118) "The places in which any significant event occurred become embedded with some of that emotion, and so to recover the memory of the place is to recover the emotion, and sometimes to revisit the place uncovers the emotion. Every love has its landscape. Thus place, which is always spoken of as though it only counts when you’re present, possesses you in its absence, takes on another life as a sense of place, a summoning in the imagination with all the atmospheric effect and association of a powerful emotion. The places inside matter as much as the ones outside. It is as though in the way places stay with you and that you long for them they become deities (…)."

(P. 119) “Is it that the joy that comes from other people always risks sadness, because even when love doesn't fail, mortality enters in; is it that there is a place where sadness and joy are not distinct, where all emotion lies together, a sort of ocean into which the tributary streams of distinct emotions go, a faraway deep inside; is it that such sadness is only the side effect of art that describes the depths of our lives, and to see that described in all its potential for loneliness and pain is beautiful?”

(P. 121) “The landscape in which identity is supposed to be grounded is not solid stuff; it’s made out of memory and desire, rather than rock and soil (…).”

(P. 133) "(…) but writing is lonely enough, a confession to which there will be no immediate or commensurate answer, an opening statement in a conversation that falls silent or takes place long afterward without the author. But the best writing appears like those animals, sudden, self-possessed, telling everything and nothing, words approaching wordlessness. Maybe writing is its own desert, its own wilderness."

(P. 135) “For a while it was forever, and then things started to fall apart. There isn't a story to tell, because a relationship is a story you construct together and take up residence in, a story as sheltering as a house. You invent this story of how your destinies were made to entwine like porch vines, you adjust to a big view in this direction and no view in that, the doorway that you have to duck through and the window that is jammed, how who you think you are becomes a factor of who you think he is and who he thinks you are, a castle in the clouds made out of the moist air exhaled by dreamers. "

(P. 136) “The stories don't fit back together, and it's the end of stories, those devices we carry like shells and shields and blinkers and occasionally maps and compasses. The people close to you become mirrors and journals in which you record your history, the instruments that help you know yourself and remember yourself, and you do the same for them. When they vanish so does the use, the appreciation, the understanding of those small anecdotes, catchphrases, jokes: they become a book slammed shut or burnt... The stories shatter. Or you wear them out or leave them behind. Over time the memory loses power. Over time you become someone else.”

(P. 161) "Between words is silence, around ink whiteness, behind every map's information is what's left out, the unmapped and unmappable"

(P. 163) "But the terra incognita spaces on maps say that knowledge also is an island surrounded by oceans of the unknown. They signify that the cartographers knew they did not know, and awareness of ignorance is not just ignorance; it’s awareness of knowledge’s limits.”

(P. 165) “Worry is a way to pretend that you have knowledge or control over what you don't--and it surprises me, even in myself, how much we prefer ugly scenarios to the pure unknown.”

(P. 174) "(…) each of our lives traces its own map onto the shared terrain."

(P. 176) "We fly; we dream in darkness; we devour heaven in bites too small to be measured.”

(P. 181) "A story can be a gift like Ariadne’s thread, or the labyrinth, or the labyrinth’s ravening Minotaur; we navigate by stories, but sometimes we only escape by abandoning them."

(P. 182) "In dreams, nothing is lost. Childhood homes, the dead, lost toys all appear with a vividness your waking mind could not achieve. Nothing is lost but you yourself, wanderer in a terrain where even the most familiar places aren’t quite themselves and open onto the impossible […]. The weight of a dream is not in proportion to its size. Some dreams are made of fog, some of lace, some of lead. Some dreams seem to be made out of less the usual debris of the psyche than bolts of lightning sent from outside".

(P. 188) "Animals are the old language of the imagination; one of the ten thousand tragedies of their disappearance would be a silencing of this speech. A man once told me that much of my writing was about loss, that that was how I imagined the world, and I thought about that comment for a long time. In that sense of loss two streams mingled. One was the historian’s yearning to hang onto everything, write everything down, to try to keep everything from slipping away, and the historian’s joy in retrieving out of archives and interviews what was almost forgotten, almost out of reach forever. But the other stream is the common experience that too many things are vanishing without replacement in our time. At any given moment the sun is setting someplace on earth, and another day is slipping away largely undocumented as people slide into dreams that will seldom be remembered when they awaken. Only the continuation of abundance makes loss sustainable, makes it natural. There are more sunrises coming, but even dreams could be emptied out."

(P. 198-199) “Maybe if I really paid attention to my life I’d notice that I don’t know what’s going to happen this afternoon and I can’t be fully confident that I’m competent to deal with it. Maybe we’re willing to let in that thought. It has some reasonableness to it, I can’t exactly know, but chances are, possibilities are, it’s not going to be much different than what I’ve usually experienced and I’ll do just fine, so we close up that unsettling possibility with a reasonable response. The practice of awareness takes us below the reasonableness that we’d like to think we live with and then we start to see something quite fascinating, which is the drama of our inner dialogue, of the stories that go through our minds and the feelings that go through our heart, and we start to see in this territory it isn’t so neat and orderly and, dare I say it, safe or reasonable. So in the practice of awareness, which has gone on for centuries after centuries and millennium after millennium, human beings have asked themselves, Hmmmm, how do I engage this process in a way that I don’t become too frightened by what it might unfold or too complacent by avoiding it? This is the delicate work of awareness."

(P. 199) "And the practice of awareness doesn’t say don’t weave your world. That’s what we’re hardwired to do, it’s not a volitional thing to think ‘truck’ after hearing that sound. The practice of awareness says don’t grasp it too tightly, don’t be too convinced. (…) It’s okay to realize that life has a mysterious quality to it, it has an element of uncertainty, it’s okay to realize that we do need help, that calling out for help is a very generous act because it allows others to help us and it allows us to be helped.

(P. 206) "The house was a small place inside a larger one, or a small story inside a larger one; picture the stories nesting like Russian dolls, so that terrible things were happening in that house, but they were tied to the redemption happening on the larger scale of the county, which was in part reaction to the violent erasures going on across the country and the world.”

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