In reading something totally unrelated this morning, I was reminded of my first road trip using a GPS system. I must confess, this was not an example of love at first sight.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of the technology. One of my greatest fears is to become lost in a “dangerous” part of town and not be able to find my way out. GPS has put those fears at ease. And it is nice to have the ability to search for nearby restaurants, hotels, or other items of interest; a spontaneous detour is as simple as 1-2-3. And for the most part, the robotic female voice is calm and intentional, warning of necessary lane changes or upcoming exits. But there are times when that voice is irritating and downright rude.
It was the summer of 2009 and I was riding with a friend from Atlanta to Asheville to attend a six-week class. Nerves were high as the intense study of writing and literature always elicits fears of “I’m not good enough” … but the unfamiliar territory maximized my anxiety. Margie input the final destination into the GPS, and we were off on our adventure.
Everything started off fine. Margie knew her way around Georgia, and the highway system was rather straight forward. But once we reached the outskirts of Asheville, it was a different story. It seemed that necessary turns caught us by surprise, and our GPS guide was quite judgmental.
We passed our first exit, to which the GPS responded, “Recalculating.” Her voice still calm but a tad irritated.
However, I immediately felt as though I had to justify our actions. “We couldn’t move over fast enough. We will turn around and catch it on the flip side.” I almost pleaded for forgiveness.
Of course, at this point, she had recalculated, which did not involve said U-turn. We turned around, looked for the exit, but unfortunately missed it again. The voice repeated, “Recalculating” … although I swear she sounded a bit more exasperated than the first time.
I became quite defensive and felt I had to let her know that this was not an intentional rebellion. Tension was high … on both sides. I resented her heavy-handed authoritative leadership, and she apparently, resented our inability to grasp simple directions. By the time we arrived at our destination, we were no longer civil.
In normal circumstances, I find the GPS accurate, and I do appreciate a relationship that is based on trust. I also like dependability, and the GPS is available whenever and wherever I need reliable service. But she is also rigid, unwilling to consider another point of view and not willing to compromise. It is times like this that I feel the need to re-examine the relationship and wonder if we need to take a break.
This is especially true as I travel around my hometown. I know how to navigate the general area and just need assistance with the last few turns. But often my choice of taking the backroads conflicts with her notion of taking the fastest route via the highway. She is constantly trying to override my decisions by “recalculating” in her most disgusted voice. I feel my blood pressure climb as I mentally justify my choice. “There is more than one way to get there!” I argue. “I know what I am doing.”
As I enter this new adventure called “retirement” I sometimes think a GPS might be helpful. While my options are limitless, there is no clear direction. I often wish for a distinct voice telling which path to follow. At least one of us would be certain.
But I need to learn to trust my instincts. I need to accept that there is more than one way to get to where I want to go. I know I am blessed with this opportunity: to discover hidden talents and desires, to revise my life, and perhaps to take the road less traveled. This adventure is best left to natural discovery …. and if I get too far off course, I will trust God to recalculate my steps.
In the meantime…. I know the general direction to take, and I am going to enjoy the leisurely ride.