I’ll admit that I am a bit “unconventional” when it comes to the typical stereotype of a woman driver. I do NOT stop and ask for directions. I remember actually stopping once, when my college roommate and I were doing a summer road trip around the state and had NO idea where we were going. And yes, these were the days WAY before cell phones, when one actually had to look in a phone book for an address.
Anyway, the reason I remember it so clearly is that we were just going to “pop in” and surprise I guy I sort of had a crush on. Up until that point I had been playing it cool, like “sure, I’m good with us just being friends” but this stopping in unannounced at this home to see him was kinda going to blow that cover. Oh yes, one other point: I hadn’t told my roomie of my plans yet. She thought we were going to see a girl on our floor who lived in the same town. Surprise! So, I went into the gas station (it’s what you did when you hadn’t a clue), and asked the guy for directions. I had to ask for both address locations, just to cover my bases. Of course, as he is explaining these directions to me, I notice that he is a cute guy, and anything I was supposed to remember went immediately out of my head. I smiled and nodded and went back to the car. When my roommate asked me where we were going, I had no idea what he had just told me. Needless to say, she was not pleased with me. And this lesson stuck with me: never stop and ask for directions. It only results in more confusion and upset passengers!
I am lucky to be a very observant person, and one who likes puzzles, so finding my way around a new place is a bit of a game for me. I am generally up for the challenge, unless of course there is a cute boy involved (see above). I have found my way around new cities in foreign lands and feel very proud of being able to figure it out on my own.
Now let’s fast forward to today’s generation.
My daughter and her friends would be utterly lost – no, literally lost – without their cell phones and GPS systems. She freely admits this. I was trying to give her directions to get from our new home onto the highway and she just was unable to take it in. “It’s easy,” I said. “Just go right out of the driveway, go to the light where that Dunkin Donuts used to be and turn right, and then look for the signs for Route 80”. She just shook her head and said “I’ll put it in my GPS.”
My son confirmed that this is a generational issue. People have become so reliant on their mechanical maps that they are truly lost without the technology. It makes me very concerned. Outside of any worry for their safety is the fact that they are missing the sights along the way. Gone will be the phrase “Turn at the big Oak tree” because no one will even notice a tree!
And even more importantly, what is happening to the internal compass? There have been many times, even recently, when I am in a new area, where I have to rely on my logic and visual cues to figure out where to go next. It’s the same on my life’s journey. Sometimes I make a mistake, but through trial and error I have learned to trust my judgement. If you don’t learn to exercise this “finding your way” muscle, how will you literally “find your way” in life? If you have to rely on something, or someone outside of yourself for the answers, you will miss that opportunity to grow and evolve into a strong and confident person.
In Alice in Wonderland, Alice finds herself lost in the woods and encounters the Cheshire Cat. She asks the Cat,
“Would you tell me please, which way I should go from here?”
“That depends a great deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t care much where…” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“…so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
Where are you going? And how are you going to get there? Try checking out your internal GPS – it may save you a lot of time and energy and lead you on a lifetime of adventure. And to quote Dr. Seuss “Oh! The places you will go!”