I wasn’t lost but I didn’t know where I was.
I was driving from my house to dinner with a friend in a different city. I typed the address into Googlemaps and obeyed the voice in my car.
Turn right on Green-wood Road
Turn slight right onto Mil-wau-kee Avenue, Illinois 21.
In 600 feet turn right onto N. Harlem, Illinois 43.
I drove through neighborhoods I didn’t know, passing tidy houses and brick bungalows, likely built in the post WWII era. Each one distinguished only by the curtains in the large front window and the saint statue in the yard. I drove by large stately homes that had gravitas and history. Was that a Frank Lloyd Wright?
Where was I? I knew where I had been and where I was going. I knew in one quarter of a mile I would turn left. I felt like had been “beamed” somewhere and was caught mid-transport. I wasn’t really anywhere.
I missed maps. Real maps. Those large, unwieldy accordions of paper that are impossible to use while driving. But they show how cities, towns and neighborhoods are situated in relationship to each other. And which communities are divided by interstates. With a map, I could almost always figure out where I was.
I used to want a GPS for my life – some voice to give a clear direction in the moment of a major decision.
In 6 days accept the new job.
In 300 feet turn toward that relationship.
But now I want a map. I want a bird’s eye view. I’d like to see now what I can only ever see in hindsight – how the various pieces and parts of my life fit together.
I had a friend in graduate school who plotted his life like the person who gives me directions from inside my iPhone. He knew how long he would work in his first position post graduate degree and what the next job would be. He knew where he would land in five and ten years. I used to feel inadequate because I didn’t have an equally structured plan.
I make decisions one at a time without the benefit of knowing if they are getting me any closer to my destination. I’m don’t even know what my destination is. For now I’ll work on focusing on where I am without knowing where I’ll end up.
GPS works if you can type in exactly where you are going. With a map you can explore.