Sunday, October 16, 2005

Thinking About GPS Systems

One of the main reasons we drove to Boston this weekend (instead of flying or taking the train) was so that David could prove he could navigate in this complicated city without getting lost. It’s not that he’s been studying maps of Boston recently, but rather it is the fact that our new Prius is equipped with a GPS system. It’s so sophisticated that we could type in our daughter’s address in Boston as we pulled out of our driveway and the car could tell us every turn to make for 450 miles! What a change, not to need maps any longer, not to be the one on the hotseat as “navigator.” This single invention has totally revolutionized the way we drive and certainly minimized the number of times we get lost. In fact, the few times when we failed to turn at the appropriate intersection, even though the warm female voice had instructed us to do so, she didn’t say, “You dumb shit, you missed your turn!” Instead she simply changed the route without chastising us in the least.

Several other life examples come to mind when I think about this concept of a GPS system. I think back to my efforts to give instruction of any kind to my children – how to cook, how to sew, how to ride a bike. Maybe it’s not completely analogous because with some of these things, when you screw up it’s already too late to fix it. But I do wish I could have been that pleasant female voice gently making a change instead of a screaming lunatic.

Even today, I think about how we navigate through life. Every day we are faced with choices in most everything we do. Is there some unseen, ESP-style communicator that governs how we make those choices? I mean, have you ever done something for the first time and said to yourself, “How did I ever figure out how to do that?” Have you ever been faced with a difficult situation with an employee or a friend and implored some unknown source to tell you how to handle it? After you successfully deal with the situation, you can’t help but say, “Thank God.” Maybe that’s it. Maybe God serves as our GPS navigator as we make the difficult choices life constantly throws at us. Hm…..


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