I just really started using a GPS to find my way on trips. I had one in a rental car and in an older phone. So, I’ve used them off and on, but I admit it was even as recently as last October when people made fun of flip phone and it’s limitations. I got lost on the way to a family dinner. After that I was determined to upgrade.
That being said, I was born long ago enough that I have spent may long trips by myself, finding my way with the use of a map. No cell phone not so long ago (so of necessity arrived, I would find a pay phone). I was quite comfortable navigating my way to new places, and for the most part, was successful. Using a map requires some problem solving skills that I enjoy. I used to have to find my way to schools and businesses, and was rarely very worried. The anxiety that decided to show up in later years was still in wait.
But still, I must keep up with modern advances. This trip I took my somewhat newer droid (DROID!) with me. It has a GPS and served me well as I figured my way back and forth between PA and NJ, and on some confusing areas. I would listen to me friend the Droid, and she would support. Its an interesting thing to rely on technology-like what if all a sudden she gave me some bizarre directions-well, that’s for the short story writer in meJ. Anyway, we worked together like a tight team, and it was with sadness when I realized she was gone.
So, I was readying for my trip today to a retreat center. Somehow my phone wasn’t working. It wasn’t charging at all and would not turn on. Suddenly I had sight moments of panic. How can I do this? I actually couldn’t remember the feel of actually navigating a journey with my friend.
I decided it would be a practice to go without the phone. I had an interesting morning discussion with my friend. (Because we have known each other 30 years, conversations are generally expansive). Always great to catch up with people to remind oneself of some of life’s beautiful consistencies. Like some people’s hearts. There was a little disturbing news as I left of missing young men in a local town. Sad.
My friend wrote down directions and I left on my trip. It seemed like a pretty simple trip, but at one point, I got confused. I didn’t have a map, just directions I had never looked at. I realized just how stranded I was without a cell phone. I decided I needed to get some more info to make sure I was on the right path. I got off of the road and drove about 3 miles to an Exxon Convenient Store. I walked up to the counter and asked if they had maps.
“No,” the clerk said as if I was arriving from another age. Like as if I was asking for a yoyo. No maps? Of course, with so many people using GPS’s, why would a convenient store stock maps? (They also didn’t have yoyo’s-or Howdy Doody dolls.)
I left the Exxon, wondering how to problem solve my next step. I’m not really sure why I decided to go up the road a bit, but as it turns out, pretty much next door was a Verizon Wireless store with a friendly clerk named Nick. (what amazing luck, cus this was out in suburban wilds). Nick flicked a few switches, and the phone came on somewhat, and then showed what looked like an engine or heart that was malfunctioning.
“That’s not good.” He said.
“No,” I said to my new best friend, “It’s not.”
So I asked Nick to print out directions to the retreat center and as he started to do that, my malfunctioning heart of a cell phone started to function. DROID!..
Nick was about to stop printing the directions, but I’d learned my lesson, and he continued.
I got back into my car. Plugged in my little cell phone and followed its guide all the way to where I needed to be, all with a nice paper back up.
I love the advantage of a GPS. But I don’t want to lose the skills of actually navigating a trip. It may be that I generally use the GPS as back up. I love (and at times) hate navigating this journey, but I don’t just want to be told what to do or how to do it, there is a loss of mystery and ownership for me in that. If this life is about the journey, and not the destination, then I want to be an active part in assertively creating the journey.
It’s nice my droid is up and running, but its breakdown allowed me a chance to have to trust myself (and I met nice people like Nick). It’s not about having the answers I suppose, but living into the unknown of the questions.
As of this moment, the young men are still missing.