This entry is far from original. Others have made use of a similar illustration; this is my iteration. It is a true story.
I am ten, and it is the middle of July boy's camp in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. In my relentless pursuit of all things amphibian and reptilian, my curiosity veers me away from Blair Lake and into a sphagnum moss covered old lake bed. I immediately notice a number of elusive wood frogs that jump away from me. They distract me as I enter further into a forest of ten-foot tall tamarack pines situated in deep sphagnum moss. One hundred feet into this unique bog forest ecosystem, I turn around to look back at where I came from. I am alarmed. Every direction I turn looks identical to the next—a forest of lichen covered, ten-foot tall tamarack pines shading a forest floor of sphagnum moss peppered with green ferns.
Entoloma Mushroom in Sphagnum Moss
Though surrounded in an environment rich with the raw ingredients for imagination with its Carboniferous-looking mosses and ferns, I am overtaken with anxiety. With each step the sphagnum moss completely engulfs my foot and leg up to my knee only to return to form moments after my foot exits; hence, I leave no footprints. The thought takes hold of my mind that I might be wandering in the wrong direction, entering into the hundreds of miles of state forest surrounding the camp. My heart races with the thought that I might be spending the night alone in the woods—deep in a bog forest with a thick sun-blocking canopy. I walk back the direction I think I came from.
Two minutes later, nothing has changed. Though I was sure I had turned back the way I started, every direction I look is the same. Ahead of me I hear something. It is the sound of a vehicle driving over a gravel road—now I have a bearing. Three minutes later I see the terrain changing, and I emerge onto a familiar gravel road. A vehicle passes, and I try to look calm and together though I am overtaken by relief. Turning to look back and down the slope into the forest I left, I realize how amazingly near I was to the road the entire time. In fact, I realize that the forest was interrupted by roads on at least three sides and Blair Lake on the other—there was little chance of me being lost there for long. The next day I return to the same area to catch wood frogs, and in the years to come I returned there nearly every summer.
I have discovered that life is of this nature. To learn, to really know, I must forgo knowing and certainty—I must be willing to allow myself to get lost and then to find myself. Human learning is of this nature. The scientific advancement of human knowledge could not and did not occur until the dogmatic certainties of previous generations (e.g., the Earth is the center of the solar system, Noah's Flood created fossils, the Earth is 6000 years old, etc.) were laid aside. Once the "known" is forsaken, learning can happen. Once one allows the anxieties of being lost and lost certainties to experience, then she is ready to learn.
Dogmatic certitudes will be the death of humanity. Scientific epistemologies with its always contingent approach to the world will be our species' salvation. Let go of your dogmatic certainties. Let go of what you know with absolute confidence. Embrace the contingency of what you know. Get Lost.