Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Abyss Mal

It's a good thing that the world is round, otherwise I'm sure I would be one of those to drive right over its edge. Known for my poor sense of direction, I tell people that I can get lost going around the block. I don't know if they believe me, but it's true. It's actually happened. No matter that the block was one that contained both an angled and a one-way street, two man-made inventions sure to confuse the innocent driver.

One time, in the midst of driving home from Oak Forest to Midlothian, I ended up in Indiana, no small feat even for me. True, I wasn't really lost, I knew my way home perfectly. I just got caught up in the beauty of the day and began daydreaming about God knows what. I was surprised when I came to. "Is this the beginning of early stage Alzheimer's or just a dalliance of the mind?" I wondered. It was disconcerting to be so far off course.

No less disconcerting is my uncanny disability when it comes to navigating my way around. No world traveler I; it is enough for me to get lost in my own backyard, the south suburbs of Chicago. Even driving to Champaign requires the following of the one worn and inefficient way that I know well. Sure, there are easier routes, but who knows where I might end up? Even now I ask for directions when I visit my daughter and we venture out for shopping and a lunch date. It's only been 8 years, after all, that I've been driving in and around the area.

It's funny, I meditate and read books like "Awareness" by Anthony de Mello to open my mind to my surroundings and yet I can be completely unaware of how to get some place. I have heard that Einstein had similar problems with simple and mundane tasks. If true, there might be hope for me yet!

I suppose I could invest in one of the many GPS systems available now, but I would never really learn how to use them. Technology is another of my shortcomings. It took me years to agree to either a microwave or a cell phone. I never learned to program my VCR or set up my voice mail. Owners manuals leave me cold and so I resist the newest gimmicks and gadgets with every fiber of my being. In part, it's the "green-ness" in me, I think. I long for the simple life! Besides that, everyone I know who has had a dashboard GPS (everyone being three friends of mine) has had the unit stolen out of their cars. Yes, GPS systems are the new, hot items for thieves, the radios and tape players and I-passes of the new generation. They call out "steal me." There is no way I am willing to bring that upon myself. Instead I might rely on the partially inaccurate Mapquest to get me where I want to go. I read and follow its directions religiously while trying to keep at least one eye on the road. I find it works well enough; I eventually get to where I want to go and get back home again. Maybe a little late and shook up, but in the end no worse off.

So I'll continue to take my chances, I suppose, venturing out into the world. I sympathize with early explorers who traveled more or less blindly all the while believing the world to be a flat place in which sailing into the abyss seemed a likely reality. At least I have the benefits of the awareness of the horizon and the verification of earth's roundness by astronomers and astronauts. I try to use the sun and moon as my natural tools of navigation. And if I drive too far and reach an ocean or border, I can always turn around and drive back the other way. As long as I stay on the road, I'll be all right. Sphere's, in their never ending-ness are great that way. No edges from which to fall--just keep circling around.

1 comment:

Lin said...

My late Aunt Terry used to get lost every single time she went somewhere--even to relatives' houses that she had been to for years. She'd arrive hours late, exasperated that she got lost again and then would proceed to get lost on the way home. She always had a diet pepsi stuck in the side of her purse and I think it was just in case she got stranded and needed refreshment until help came. So, I guess you are not alone in your adventures.
I like how you embrace this part of you and how you think of it more as an adventure.

As always, I enjoy your writing and your use of language. It is lovely and I can almost hear you reading it to me when I read it.

I got one of those GPS things and have been afraid to try it out. Like you, I hate all this gadgety stuff, but I think this might be one worth trying. Ours comes off the holder to be put into a handy carry case, and I will take your warning on heists to heart. I'll let you know if they work. :)