Lost direction can leave you feeling all at sea, or as this example shows, lost all over the beach and in danger from the sea.

In moments of uncertainty about which direction to take it can be useful to remember that there is always something to guide you. It may not be apparent at first, so follow the standard survival advice: Don’t Panic.

Lost direction

I was once lost in thick fog on the beach at Le Touquet, in northern France. The beach there is very wide, and at low tide the water recedes several hundred metres from the shoreline. Because it is so flat the water rises very quickly when the tide starts to come in.

It was low tide and we were a long way out, at the water’s edge, when the fog came down. We tried to walk back to the shore, but without a horizon to guide us we kept coming back to the water’s edge. We were lost. It was funny at first, but not for long.

Though it would be dark soon, and we were getting cold, I said “Fine, the tide will come in eventually and we can stay ahead of the water we”ll be driven back to the top of the beach”.

“Not here”, said my friend, “the tide comes in so quickly it’ll overtake us before we find the beach.”

Ripples in the sand

I’d been a keen diver, but I didn’t think we could swim back to land in the fog and the dark, even if we could have survived the cold (it was February). A silly situation had arisen from a harmless walk on the beach. These days, my phone has a compass, but back then there were no mobile phones, and who carried a compass?

It was then that I remembered a basic bit of trivia from my diving manual; the ripples in the sand always run almost parallel to the shoreline. With the water behind us, we simply made sure we kept the ripples at right-angles to our direction of travel. We reached the top of the beach in 15 minutes or so, and headed for the nearest cafe!

Lost in life

The value in the metaphor is that lost direction need not be scary. if ever you find yourself at a loss, unsure of your direction, take some time to stop and think, to focus inwardly, to tune in to the ripples.

Everything emits energy, and the physicists tell us that there are ripples in the universe.  Even if you don’t believe that, by slowing down and tuning in to your inner self, your intuition can guide you to somewhere useful. You may have to be lost for a little while before that happens, but that’s part of the fun of exploration and so it goes with the territory.

If the tide turns, and you find that you are going the wrong way, you won’t be swamped, you simply have to change direction. Eventually you’ll reach firmer ground.