Sense of direction

How to get there

I am awash in directions: Next to my computer I have typed up directions for my camera, my IPOD, my scanner, the TV remotes, the Blue Ray player, the DVR and more.  Before I attempt a visit to a new doctor (or even one I’ve visited before) I carefully review the directions. I like directions that are specific, step-by-step, with landmarks and pictures.  I create direction sheets for myself from other people’s directions. If I have to find a destination on a map, I hold the map as if I was driving up the road and then carefully translate the directions into a list of “moves” from beginning to end. In short, I can’t find my way out of a paper bag.

I have no intuition, no hunches, no gut feelings when it comes to figuring out where I am, spatially, in the world and how to get where I want to go, unless I’ve been there countless times….and even then.  And the passing decades haven’t changed me from the seven year old who had to be led out of the woods by her four year old brother.  So this is one of those things I’ve had to make peace with. Now, if only I could consistently recall the directions for operating my GPS!     
There are two other wonderful poems about directions: “Directions,” by Billy Collins and “Travel Directions,”  by Joan Siegel.
 Directions for a Flawless Life
Take a left
pass the zoo
do not marry the gorilla.
Five blocks from the second stop light
or is it the third?
veer right.
Avoid the lake, do not drown
learn to swim.
Follow the signs.
They are small and written in Greek
or is it Russian?
Squint. Wear glasses. Shade your eyes.
Do not buy candy at the country store.
It’s out of date.
Take the hill slow, there may be mud.
Park at the barn, walk in.
Do not lose your boots
Remember to hum.
Cross the bridge
follow the cow path
do not pet the bull-
that’s the one with the horns.
You will know you have arrived if the daffodils nod
if the woodpecker taps
if the wind touches your cheek.
-Thomas Lux

Categories: wisdom

2 replies

  1. You’ve redesigned your blog. Is the rainbow symbolic of the treasures yet to come? And by the way wrestling with north, east, south and west reminds me of the differences between a man and a woman as they seek to get somewhere. A woman gives directions by saying: go up the street and turn at the Italian restaurant. While a man, who will never ask for help, will tell you: go north on Sentinel Road and then west on Front Street for three blocks. Our wiring is obvious, but we all get where we need to go (eventually). It’s so much fun to click on your blog and read how your synapses are flashing.

  2. I have relied on intuition in the past and a sense of knowing generally where I want to go and when I want to get there and it has stood me in good stead. That and a reliable GPS!! I HATE step by step instructions…if you rely on it too much and you miss a step, you have to go back to step one. Lets fly by the seat of our pants (one cliche after another here) and with reliable technology behind us….see where life takes us.

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