Thursday, July 15, 2010

Finding the Way Home

I've been enjoying a few days of R&R on the Washington coast. It has been a particularly busy past month or so, and I decided to give myself a little break. I am working a bit while I'm here, but for the most part I'm enjoying long beach walks, amazingly tasty seafood and all my favorite guilty pleasures - "fluff" magazines, scratch lottery tickets, jigsaw puzzles and of course, a good book.

Yesterday morning I took a walk on the beach with my coffee in hand, as is my 'beach custom.' It was an interesting set of conditions when I went walking. The beach was completely socked in with a low hanging fog. It also was one of the lowest tides I've experienced in a very long time. -1.8 on the tide scale.

I couldn't see very far in front of me because of the fog. Everything, in every direction was pure white. I kept trying to find the water's edge, but the tide was so far out that I never did actually see the ocean! There were large pools of standing water that separated me from the stretch of beach where the waves were actually crashing on the sand. I could hear the ocean, but I couldn't see it. It was an eerie sensation in some ways.

I walked for 45 minutes in one direction, reached a river I couldn't cross, and turned to return to my room and an inviting, hot shower.

The tide was turning and beginning to come back in, so I could see the ocean, but as I walked along the water's edge, I could not see the bluff upon which my hotel resided. The shore beyond the beach was totally obscured in the fog. I walked for about 30 minutes, and began wondering how I was going to find my hotel. I truly couldn't see!

About that time I noticed that the footprints I had made earlier, traveling in the opposite direction, were still visible in the sand. I decided the the easiest way to get back to my hotel was to follow my own foot prints.

Normally, I would walk along the water's edge for as long as I could until I was parallel to my hotel, then I would walk directly to it. I love to be near the water for as long as possible.

Today, however, if I had tried that I would have overshot my hotel. There isn't a doubt in my mind that I would have missed it!

I followed my footprints. Every once in a while they would disappear, and I would have to scan the surrounding area to pick up the trail again.

Eventually, they led me to the bluff and to the staircase that climbs through a wooded ravine to the hotel. Success! I had found my way back!

As I was retracing my footsteps, I thought about the various times in my life when I have gotten 'lost' or 'off track' and had to find my way back to where I belonged. Sometimes we can take a new route, but the truth is, sometimes we just have to backtrack and go back the way we came!

Sometimes, if the process of getting off track has been difficult or painful for us - the last thing we want to do is to go 'back through' the same territory. Yet, that is what is sometimes required to get us back on track.

We need to take the steps we need to take to correct our course when we have gotten lost or off track. Do what needs to be done to address it - even if it isn't comfortable or pleasant. The sooner we get back on track the better off we'll be!

Pick up the trail and follow it home!