I’ve always said that the best way to discover the truth in a new place is to get lost in it. When you completely give yourself to the streets and allow your feet to take you wherever it is they want to march, you end up wandering down paths you would never have taken if you were following a map, or had decided to take the bus.
It’s a strange logic, after all the idea of getting lost connotes a negative image of disorientation and hopelessness in some people’s mind, but it’s one I cling to when I travel.
When we visited Rome, we only stumbled across the Fontana di Trevi by accident because we had decided to wander and just happened to hear the splash of the water against the stone below. We would have probably visited anyway, but when you come across such beautiful and incredible sights like this by surprise, it fills you with wonder and bliss and you feel as though you are the first one to ever set eyes on it.
Since moving to NYC for the summer, I’ve applied the same theory. The trick is to have an awareness of where exactly you want to get lost – a sort of arranged disorientation. Hopefully, it goes without saying that you have to be aware of where you are and aware of your safety and security – only choosing areas to wander down that you’ve researched beforehand, so that in the event where you truly are lost, you have the means to find civilisation (so-to-speak) again. It also pays to have a final destination in mind.
Getting lost in Brooklyn has allowed me to find some beautiful spots. When trying to find a bookstore (I knew the area I needed to go), I discovered a little cafe across the street which has now become my morning haven. I’m here right now in fact.
Manhattan actually provides the perfect space to lose yourself in. No matter where you go, or what street you wander down, there will always be someone there with you. The grid layout of the city makes it easy to find your bearings, and the landmarks act as constant beacons in the sky, guiding you to your desired final stop. When I spot the Empire State Building looming in the background, I know I’m not far from Aaron’s office.
My planned disorientation usually follows the same routine. In the morning, I wander to my favourite cafe in Brooklyn before using my compass to head in the direction that I know the subway is. I usually catch the train to lower Manhattan in the early afternoon sun and pick an avenue or village to explore. At the beginning of last week, I headed to Greenwich village where I enjoyed pizza for 3 dollars a slice and later on in the week, Noho – where I accidentally walked through a photoshoot with a very famous model and enjoyed some delicious tacos for 4 dollars.
I would never had discovered these if I’d stuck to the same path everyday, or caught the bus or subway straight to my desired end location. Going off the beaten track has allowed me to explore the city through my own eyes. And in doing so, I’m making my own impression and imprint of the city on my mind, instead of the guided one of a tour guide or subway map.
Oh, and did I mention that I’ve also been walking roughly 15k a day? Getting lost is also great for the thighs it seems. Any excuse of another doughnut…