By Donna Sternberg
I started out eagerly on a hike, a simple 5 mile loop that progressed from grasslands on the top of the world where I could look out and see all the way to the ocean - if it wasn't fogged in - through a forest and back to my studio. I saw some inspiring art along the way that past residents had placed along, amidst and semi-hidden on the trail. I was breathing in the fresh air and thinking how extraordinarily fortunate I was. When I came to a fork in the trail, a sign with HOME on it directed me in the right direction. A second sign, again on a fork, directed me. Or so I thought. I had a rudimentary map with me provided by Djerassi with all of the artist installments on it, how hard could it be to follow the trail? I discovered I was not Sacagawea. After the 2nd HOME sign and the fork, I walked downhill until I reached a locked gate with a fence around it. That couldn't be right, it didn't seem like I should climb it, why would they have a gate on their own property? There are several other properties that abut Djerassi, so I naturally assumed this was one of them. I climbed all the way back up the hill and searched again. Clearly the sign pointed the way I went, but there was another fork in the road, so I followed that. It took me to what I thought, and still do, was an artist creation. I kept walking, the trail stopped. I looked for another trail and saw one so followed it uphill. At some point I was keenly aware that I was walking through poison oak, not good. I had a bout with poison oak a few years ago and it wasn't pretty. How could this be the trail? I passed a large dead bird, looked like a huge turkey, though how a turkey could be around in a fairly isolated forest puzzled me. I wasn't about to stoop and make sure what kind of bird it was, needless to say I wasn't overwhelmed with joy to see it. So I retraced my steps back to the HOME sign and went the other way, which was all uphill. That didn't seem right, so I went back. I walked around and around that area for I think at least an hour and a half, checking and rechecking that map. Then I stood at yelled "Help, I'm lost!" to nobody - over and over. I hate to get lost. It brings up all kinds of feelings - vulnerability, stupidity, out of control, frustration, impatience. I hadn't reached fear yet because I knew I could retrace my steps - all up hill mind you - but I didn't want to go back. Forge ahead, that's what we all want to do. No luck. I'd started out at 8:30, it was now 11:30 and I did the #1 no no for hikers - I had no water with me. I was getting pretty thirsty by this point. So I started back, retracing my steps. Defeat, but at least I knew I'd get back before dinner. After putting special liquid on my clothes and skin to hopefully get all the poison oak oil out, I am sitting here contemplating the idea of being lost, metaphorically. As an artist I am often lost, not knowing in the middle or even beginning of a piece where I'm going. Usually I trust the process and just plug on, letting whatever comes out come. I've learned to let go of trying to steer a project in the direction I think I want it to go and let it instead just go. That's when it works the best. I'm not always successful, but I can see the wisdom in it and try to let it direct me. But I can't do that in real life yet, and certainly not today. So maybe it's time to try applying some of my artistic process to my real life and see where it takes me.