I had a couple of new thoughts on the importance and intricacies of wayfinding this week. The first came from my son who is gearing up for the winter swim team at his school. In order to get in shape, he’s joined a local gym (with a pool) and heads over there most days, after school, to swim laps. The first day he went there was a lot of confusion – membership card, locker room procedures, padlocks required to stow his gear, swim cap rules, etc. He came home frustrated, with a list of the things he still needed. After his second time, he came back all smiles, saying to me, “You know it’s much easier the second time you do things.” Sounds right to me.
The second thought came when I was kayaking on a nearby, smallish lake…well, I guess it’s really a big pond. I know this body of water pretty well because I regularly hike there. There’s a lovely trail that hugs the shore, coming in and out of the trees, that is a favorite of mine. I had spotted two places where tributaries from nearby rivers come into the Lake and figured that I could get to them in my kayak, providing the footbridges over them were high enough. So, there I was in my kayak, paddling in what I thought was the general direction, one morning last week. I scanned the shoreline for the break that I knew was there, but could not see it. I started to doubt myself – was this the right section of the lake? I decided to press on. As I got closer to the shore, things didn’t get any clearer – it just looked like a continuous rim of trees and reeds. But then, as I got really close, I could see it. There! A slight break in the shoreline and there was the inlet and the footbridge. Sometimes you have to be right up close to a problem to solve it.