SIDEWALK TILES. BY ALI MUFFENBIER
It’s 2 days after my arrival in Barcelona, Spain, and I am trying to find my way to my metro stop alone. I want to explore, to feel like a local, and find it without a map. I know I have to go 2 blocks, make a right and go straight for five blocks and I’ll hit the stop. So I leave my apartment.
I promptly start walking the exact opposite direction I need to be going. I go 2 blocks, make my turn, walk 5 more, and I’m completely and helplessly lost
Over an hour later, I finally make it to the metro station 8 minutes from my house. I realize I have already passed it without noticing. Twice.
Creativity comes from being lost. Specifically, lost with a desire to reach an end goal.
Not knowing where to go or what to do next and having only 2 options: continuous failure, and eventual success. There is no option but to fail until you find the best answer. With experience, it becomes a comfortable process that can be done without truly feeling lost, physically or mentally. The steps become ingrained, and the end goal can be reached.
But I think being lost is the most important part.
If I hadn’t been lost that day, I wouldn’t have found three cafés I wanted to try, two boutiques to go back to, the nearest McDonalds (important), one of the most prominent shopping areas in Barcelona, and three nearby grocery stores. Because of my being lost, I grew comfortable with my neighborhood. I understood the layout, and discovered new routes I would eventually take to spice up my morning commute. I also formed a close bond with what would end up being one of my favorite aspects of Barcelona: the sidewalk tiles.