Over and over, I found myself on the beach.
Each day, sometimes several times a day, bare feet in the gently fizzing surf, the beach at Achnacloich was the place I slowly came back to myself.
I was lost. My dazzling plan had fallen apart, leaving me homeless, humiliated, hurt. Ungrounded. Unsure. A friend took us in, but I had no idea what was next, or how to explain what had happened, or why, or how I could regain that sense of direction so essential to feeling grounded and safe.
I’d had direction. And I was so committed to that direction, to that journey. So committed I’d left my whole life behind to pursue it, just a few months earlier.
I’d had a map and a compass, a ship, a mate.
But the ship hit a storm, the waters were dangerous, the map was wrong, and the ship was full of holes.
We could have seen. We should have checked. We jumped, and we swam, and the waves took us.
I felt lost.
Yet here I was, every day.
And so it seemed that I was found.
Right here, on the beach.
Each day, as I walked up and down the shore, my gaze would move from the endless and vast horizon where I felt that lostness at its widest, its deepest, its most intangible and uncontrollable, to the millions of tiny objects beneath my feet. Driftwood, seaweed, shells and stones, crabs’ legs, whelks, broken razor shells, seed pods. All of these pieces, too, had been lost at sea. All of them, too, had found their way here.
I wondered about their stories. Had they come far? Had they meant to end up here, on a tucked-away beach on southern Skye? Were they lost? Or were they found?
I began to collect the smallest of these pieces. Those that caught my eye. I would sit for a while with two or three of these treasures, and they would tell me things.
I am where I am meant to be. So are you.
Everything returns to itself eventually. Everything comes home.
This is enough. I am enough. You are enough.
Simple words. Cliched, perhaps. But words I needed to hear.
I took them home and drew them. I jotted down their stories.
In writing their stories I wrote my own.
And in writing my story, I brought myself home.
Slowly, I found my direction once again.
Another woman came to stay. More lost than I, and on a longer journey. I gave her my tiny oracle. She picked five pieces and they told her their story. Their story became hers. It was a beautiful, touching moment.
And it unlocked something, for both of us.
We worked together. Made maps with our words, plotted routes with promises and ideas. Saw each other, gently, from the raw vulnerability of lost, to a grounded, stable place. Until it was time to part, and off we went, stories in our back pockets, maps in hands.
Maybe she’ll get lost again, maybe I will.
Lost was part of the story.
Creating the Oracle Adrift brought me home to myself.
This recent period of ‘lostness’ wasn’t the most traumatic thing I’ve been through. It felt like one of those disorientating, difficult periods that can punctuate any life, the kind of short-lived anxiety any of us can experience when life doesn’t go as planned.
The oracle helped me to find and collect myself and move forwards. It was a simple, unplanned project that helped me ground when I didn’t think I knew how.
Rather than put it away, or cast it back into the sea, I love to pass it on!
So I’m turning this small personal project into a collaboration.
And like most of my projects, it’s about collecting stories.
If you’re feeling lost, if things haven’t gone to plan, if you’re wondering who you are and what’s coming next, spend a moment with these treasures, these tiny oracles that washed up right here, right at your feet, ready to share their stories.
Would you like to take part?
The oracle will be winging its way to a friend on Monday. When it returns, I’ll be seeking the next person to receive it.
Is this you?
If you’d like to be part of this super-slow, snail-mail, storytelling project of lost-and-found, click the button below and share your story. I’ll get in touch if and when it’s time. Either way, your story will be read, and shared.
With so much love to all the lost souls,