Okay, I know most of your read the title and thought this was going to be a deep, thoughtful reflection on the importance of tuning in to the cosmic signs from the universe guiding you along the path of life. Well, relax. That’s for another time. This time, as the inaugural post of an occasional and continuing series, I want to share my philosophy on looking, or not looking, for those old fashioned physical signs when you travel.
With language as a barrier, signs can become a life line, determining whether you are truly lost or just exploring. I’ve literally wanted to kiss signs that tell me this is the right road, the train station really is up ahead, my hotel is around the corner or the much needed bathroom is in this restaurant! Practical in nature, universally understood and absolutely necessary to ease the stress of traveling, I remind myself to trust these signs along the way.
There are, however, many times when ignoring signs is the right choice because getting just a little bit lost can be a wonderfully freeing experience. It makes me feel just a little bit more alive, completely aware and absolutely present in the moment.
So I’ll start with my favorite sign of all time and most likely the one to blame for starting this silly fascination. Although not metaphysical in nature it was, interestingly, in Meta, Italy. My adventurous cousin and I had set out in the early afternoon, intent on exploring the village for a couple of hours while our two companions basked on the beach. Yes, this is the part of the story where signs were not on our radar, choosing instead to trust our innate sense of navigation and follow our curiosity in this delightfully quaint medieval town. However, as the afternoon waned, our steps began to slow and while we weren’t yet ready to admit we were lost, we were both beginning to look a lot more closely at signs to guide us back to our rendezvous cafe. Just as I was about to admit being lost, I looked up and saw this sign.
Now any sign that directs me to turn left to go dancing is a sign that I must follow. It is, after all, a universal truth that dancing feeds the soul and nourishes the spirit. So even if we were truly lost, we might at least find some interesting dancing companions down this road. How could we resist? So, turn left we did and I felt my heart do a little jig of happiness when I realized we had, indeed, found our way back to our cafe. Bella Fortuna!
That one turn was the beginning of my fascination with signs. And it continues to this day, expanding over the years to include graffiti and outdoor visual artistry (more on that in subsequent posts).
I feel compelled to thank all my travel mates past, present and future for their patience with me as I lag behind capturing, not the Eiffel Tower, but the French version of “Pick up your dog poop” across the street (because it’s a universal truth that dogs need cleaning up after). For without signs, seen or unseen, we would be truly lost.