I used my GPS today. My very own Global Positioning Software.
We don’t think too much about our GPS Systems when we use them. We just count on them to work. It is a pretty nifty deal though, when it comes right down to it.
A little background on the GPS. It was born in the Navy. Back in the Sputnik era. They came up with a way to track submarines by pinpointing coordinates between satellites. Who knew.
Today, it is a satellite-based navigation system made up of at least 24 satellites. A choreographic masterpiece, really. Spinning around up there in the way out space. But here is the magical surprise about GPS. It works in any weather conditions. It works anywhere in the world. And, it is ruthless in its schedule. It works 24 hours a day, with no subscription fees or setup charges.
I use mine frequently. My car talks, and I like talking back. So today, I had an Eye Appointment in Beavercreek. The first route she suggested wasn’t the way I wanted to go. I told her about it. And then, I committed the Cardinal Sin of Navigation. I said those two dirty words. “Alternate Route.”
Truthfully, I think I hacked her off by not following her original suggestion. And boy oh boy, did she ever stick it to me. I went to Beavercreek by way of Miamisburg, and a myriad of places I had never know before. There were fishing lakes, and shanties. I saw towers, and complexes, and towns that I did not know existed. I felt like I was in an episode of The Twilight Zone.
I swear, on my BMW User’s Manual, that I got behind the same truck on 12 separate occasions. It is like that light blue beater truck kept appearing out of nowhere. I kept checking my back seat to make sure Rod Serling wasn’t sitting there.
It ended up being all good. I was 15 minutes early for my appointment. But there were moments during the drive over when I doubted the brain behind the machine.
I told her about it, then, too. “Where in the hell are you taking me?” “Did that sign just say ‘Billy Bob’s Best Bait’?” “I can’t believe this town is called Pootersville, Ohio. At least, I think this Ohio.” This went on for quite some time. A little too long, in fact.
Yes, when I finally saw some recognizable landmarks, I was completely relieved.
We come to rely on technology, and we scarcely give it a second thought when it was working correctly. In fact, most of the times, we trust it. We believe in its capabilities. Even those “simple” technologies, like “sensors” in water heaters, and electronic cash registers, with barcode scanners.
And yes, our GPS Systems. There is a big level of trust there too. As well as our stories where operator error was to blame. You see, there is a big difference between Southland Road, and Southland Drive, when you are visiting Anytown, America.
There is a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson which loosely says, “It is not about the destination, it’s about the journey.”
I think this is true if you are meandering around Walden Pond with Thoreau, and all you have at the end of the path is a can of beans, on a wood-burning stove, in a one-room shack, with a single cot for a bed. Of course, the walk through the woods is the Jam. Even if you take the path less traveled.
You see. When the destination sucks, of course, the journey is the magnificent thing. By default.
Today, my destination wasn’t much to look forward to, but it had significant importance. And getting there proved to be a little tenuous and worrisome.
Yes, life is full of lessons. We just have to figure out what the lesson is for us. In each moment. In each case. In every context.
And we hop in our cars and drive down our roads. Going. Going to the places we hope to go, and sometimes those, which we never imagined.
“Not all those who wander are lost.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”
“The only journey is the one within.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke