By Norris Chambers

             Did you ever get lost? A sense of direction is a strange thing. From the time I was quite young I knew which directions were north, south, east and west. If I walked away in a certain direction I could usually return without a problem. The first exception to this ability came when I was about eight years old and it was very confusing to me. Clifton and two of his younger brothers and I were hunting with slingshots on a cold and cloudy day. We decided to build a fire and let the game come to us. We were about a half mile west of my home in brushy country and no game came near us. Our next move was to go out separately in different directions and return to the fire when we got cold. This sounded like a good plan so I started my hunt in a southerly direction.

            After a reasonable hunting time with no results I decided to return to the fire. I walked a long time and nothing looked familiar. I knew I was going in the right direction, so I kept walking. Eventually I came to a little road that wandered through the brush. I was not familiar with it but decided to follow it since it was going in the right direction. After a long walk I arrived at an unfamiliar house. I realized that I was helplessly lost and reluctantly knocked on the front door. A man opened the door and invited me in. I told him that I was apparently lost and asked him if he knew where my family lived.

            “You are lost!” He told me. “The Chambers place is at least five miles north of here. If you go back down the road you came in on and turn left on the road you come to you will be almost home.”  He was right. After I got to the other road I knew where I was and the directions flipped around. It was a peculiar feeling. Our hunting party had returned and they were concerned about my absence.

            My mother sympathized with me and told how she had a similar experience a few years before. For years they had been going to a little town about fifteen miles away. The road leading to the town had many turns in it since the old roads were built around farms instead of through them. When progressive officials built better roads they built them straighter. The first time they went to town using the new road she came in from the wrong direction. The whole town seemed backwards. She said she had finally got accustomed to the new directions and everything was O.K.

            A few times I had experiences like that when hunting on a dark night. I wouldn’t realize that I had lost my sense of direction until we arrived at a fence or a familiar hill or tree, then things would spin around and I would be back to normal. When I was much older I walked about three miles to get on a school bus. I had to leave in the dark and pass though about a quarter mile of thick brush. Sometimes I would lose my sense of direction and emerge from the brush on the wrong side. I solved this problem by carrying a small compass and a pocket full of matches for a reading light.

            When I first came to the Fort Worth area many years ago the direction of north was where west should be. I knew that this was right, but it just didn’t seem like north was in the right place. I had not learned that north was in that direction. Actually the north that I had grown up with was wrong. When I looked at a state map and studied it carefully it was obvious that what I had always thought was north was east.

            I finally managed to accept the new north and be comfortable with it. Actually, it never bothered me much. I knew where I wanted to go and I went. I often wonder how many people think of a direction as being north when actually it isn’t. If you never moved from the area where you grew up you would have no way of knowing. Of course the compass could tell you that you were mistaken.

            Some scientists believe that the earth’s magnetic field enables people to know the directions and that some have stronger or weaker brain receptors for reading the field. There are migrating birds that always know where they are going hundreds of miles away and of fish that return to the same streams where they were born to spawn after thousands of miles journeying through the ocean. Some people occasionally have directional problems and some do not.

            I never have let the name of the directions bother me in my search for finding fun. Whether you look north or south be sure you don’t pass up any fun along the way.

            Really, the name doesn’t mean that much – a rose by any other name would smell the same! Some pessimist might add, “So would a skunk”!