Saturday, August 22, 2009

Lost and Found

One of my biggest fears is being lost. Unlike my male counterparts, I will gladly pull into the nearest gas station and ask without shame or embarrassment, Where am I?

Perhaps my fears are based on my lack of navigational skills. I am hopelessly lost when it comes to compass directions. I turn the map to face whatever direction I am presently heading which, in my mind, is always north.

On the other hand, I am excellent at giving directions. The writer in me provides touches of color, sign posts, scenic pictorial views to let the driver know exactly where they are or how to get back should they happen to lose the breadcrumb trail.

For years, I depended on a suction cup with a ball compass attached to my dashboard. My husband has tried to teach me which way is truly north. He insists I navigate using compass directions and relay information based on coordinates other than the little pink house with the white picket fence or two houses down from the maple tree on the corner.

Surprisingly, my eighty-year old parents decided that technology was the answer. Sitting next to the bonfire of candles on my birthday cake this year was a GPS, a global positioning system. This technical marvel relies on satellites orbiting the earth transmitting signals that can pin point your exact location. It relays this information to guide you to your destination, point by point.

Some of these modern mapping marvels, talk to you as they direct each turn of the wheel. From “Turn right in 100 feet” to “You have reached your destination”, your journey is detailed by a precise, often commanding voice coming from a little black box. Some GPS have names like “Tom Tom” but the woman’s voice in my cockpit is Majel. I named her after Majel Barret, wife of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. She was the voice of the computer navigational system on the Star Trek Enterprise. Since she went where no man had gone before, I thought it appropriate that she lead this woman through the highways and byways of Oregon.

Majel and I have a sort of love hate relationship. I taunt her by finding alternate routes or short cuts. Her voice becomes increasingly frustrated as her satellite positioning blinders continue to direct me to turn right…turn right…turn right. When she realizes that I passed on her recommendation, she hesitates for just a moment. She is not happy that I have chosen not to follow her explicit directions and replies in an annoyed tone, “Recalculating”.

Wouldn’t life be much easier from the cradle to the grave if we had a GPS to guide us through the tragedies? Turn right, turn right, turn right...but then being human, we would probably go left and that frustrated little voice would say “recalculating” in the hopes of steering us back on course.

What I like the most about Majel is her Go Home button. No matter where I am she recalculates and brings me to my favorite destination, home sweet home.

I must admit, I enjoy the banter and giggle mischievously when she has to recalculate. But I always follow her directions to the letter as she finds the way home. Because that is what a wise grandma would do.

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