Thursday, February 4, 2010

I digress: The elusive experience of being lost in a familiar place

Deviating a bit from the set topic of this blog, I thought I'd share a quest of mine in life: Loosing myself in familiar places.

When I was very young, probably around 8-10 years of age, I had a most peculiar experience as I woke up one morning. I was convinced I was lying in one direction in bed (not that I remember specifically which orientation, but for the sake of the story, let's say I imagined myself facing the wall next to my bed), only to open my eyes and find out I was facing away from the wall. For the briefest of moments, I experienced a peculiar but pleasant feeling of confusion.

It is hard to put this experience in words, but if you have ever had a false awakening (that is, dreaming you woke up and started doing your morning routine, only to wake up for real moments later and finding you're still in bed), the experience is somewhat similar.

Ever since this morning in my childhood, on some level, I have been chasing this experience. It is quite elusive, as it is very hard to make yourself forget how you got somewhere, since trying typically has you paying more attention to where you are. I have indeed experienced it more times, usually while lost in deep thought about some matter, only to realized I've been wandering around randomly.

These events are rare, probably occurring order of magnitude once a year. But today, was one of those days. While pondering a problem from a textbook on plasma physics I was reading, I went to the lavatory, only to realize I had no idea which floor I was on.

They seem like such tiny and insignificant events, but given their rare and transient nature, I feel it's necessary to cherish and take the opportunity to explore them.


  1. Isn't this similar to what happens when you stay at a hotel and wake up without remembering that you're no longer at home?

  2. Yeah, that's a good example of such an experience. Unless, of course, you travel so extensively that your brain become accustomed to it, and has come to expect to wake up in different beds.