As I was biking back from the pharmacy, I was possessed by a whim to see a small park on Eisenhower, which I hadn't visited in more than a year (I don't remember the park's name, just its location). I knew that there were some lovely nature trails, and a huge tree, just like the one Totoro lives under, but I didn't realize that they had paved some of the walkways. They used wooden planks, raised a few inches off the ground to prevent muddy shoes, and to avoid obstructing the flow of rainwater.
I set off down the path, though I didn't know where it went, determined to follow it until I came out somewhere. There were a few times when the bugs and the heat and the humidity almost made me turn back, but I stuck with it, knowing that I'd never rest if I had to keep wondering where it led.
In the process, I became deeply lost.
I don't mean that I couldn't find my way back. The fact that I'm writing this now is proof that I could. I mean that I completely lost my bearings, by sense of relative position within the city as a larger whole. And that felt awesome. i felt like an explorer searching through new lands, or a traveler on a journey to a strange country. It wasn't until I emerged from the woods that I saw a single living soul. The sense of isolation and mystery was delicious. It was like living out a childhood dream.
In the process of getting lost, I discovered several previously-unknown features of my immediate area, including a disc golf course; a basketball court; a very modern-looking playground; a footbridge over I-94; and a runoff pond that's home to ducks, geese, egrets, heron, and even a swan! I even picked some wild raspberries, sun-ripened and delicious, and ate them right there on the trail. They were better than any I could ever buy in a store, because I picked them myself, using my knowledge of local plants for practical reasons.
So the next time you see a path in the woods, and you don't know where it goes, go ahead and walk it. You just might have an adventure of your own.