N: Navigation – What It’s Really Like

N: Navigation – What It’s Really Like

This post is part of a series titled, “A-B-Cs – What It’s Really Like”. Each week a new letter and its word will be revealed. Each word’s explanation will illustrate significant personal meaning, application and ultimately demonstrate, What It’s Really Like… 

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it!” – Yogi Berra

Few items have revolutionized the transportation industry over the last 25 years have been as have navigation and global positioning systems (GPS).  I have fond childhood memories of family road trips that I can picture my mother riding shotgun with a large map of the current state we were in sprawled across the dash and on her lap.  When it comes to the most stressful occupations, a few come to mind: emergency first responder, airplane captain and being my dad’s co-pilot – in that order.  Usually the only time my brother and I stopped picking on and fighting with each other in the backseat was to witness the fireworks between my parents if we made a series of consecutive wrong turns.  It was in the family minivan I learned the finer qualities of hostile negotiations, crisis management and conflict resolution.

Personal GPS devices enable us many fantastic features such as fastest route, shortest route, points or interest and lane assist – just to name a few.  You may find the speedometer, compass, elevation and destination arrival time to be most useful.  All attributes of a personal GPS are of magnificent use, but what happens when your anticipated journey does not have a destination?  What if you do not know where you are going?  How will you know when you arrive?

Typically when using a navigation system the first step is to enter a desired destination.  Most users can punch in an exact location, others may use smart features of the device to find a destination that is near or sounds like the user’s manual entry.  If you don’t know where you are going when using a GPS, chances are the unit will provide you with a destination – whether you like it or not.  For example, depending on what side of town I am on my Garmin provides me with two identical addresses when I use it to assist travel to my grandmother’s house.  The first, and incorrect selection, is located 15-20 minutes from her home.  This is just one primary example of how confusing driving in and around Atlanta can be (I am certain there are over 100 Peachtree Roads in ATL).

Over the past year my own internal, human GPS has stopped working.  In the past I have had the ability to have some insight to predicting future outcomes or final destinations.  It seems that as I have gotten older I have lost the reliability of this skill.  I have recently discovered that my internal GPS did not come equipped with Lifetime Maps.

It is either time to upgrade or to drive blindly to the next stop.  Several of my destinations have recently come into question – personally and professionally.  What location is best for my family in order to be near family members that are ailing?  What career track should I take?  Ultimately, what are the best routes?  Are these destinations along the route we are currently traveling or should we head in a different direction?


You don’t hear this annoying alert on newer GPS devices.  Instead, more modern units silently shift and adapt mapped routes to help ease the tension of the driver either by default or anticipation.  This alert has also stopped functioning for me.  Are we certain that the directions have refreshed and that we aren’t heading back the way we came?  Sometimes I feel as though we have been driving in circles, passing the same landmarks every year at the same time.

It is difficult to trust your instincts when most everything that we use in our daily lives is automated.  During a recent lunch break conversation with colleagues, we were discussing our individual bouts with horrendous Atlanta traffic.  When it became my turn to share I began rattling off my daily trip itinerary from home to day care and to school.  Eventually I found myself listing off roads and highways along with departure/arrival times.  During my rapid fire deliverance I began to see the eyes widen on some of the members in our lunch group.  The comment was made, “For someone who is not from around here you sure know your way around.  How do you do that?”  I explained that once I get somewhat familiar with a location I stop using the GPS altogether.  I choose to remove the proverbial “crutch” or “training wheels” so that I can obtain more from my surroundings that goes far beyond what is on a 3.5-inch screen.  It’s a trait that I learned from my grandfather well before I ever sat behind the wheel.  He said that if you knew the general cardinal direction before setting out on a journey you will never get lost.  From that, I have always had a great sense of direction.  As of late, not so much.

I am a firm believer in faithI am a firm believer in learning the roads you travel and the value of the experience along the journey.  I am a firm believer that I am a good driver.  Where do I want to be?  Who do I want to be?  How should I get there?  I have confidence that I can navigate through life without a GPS and whatever road I choose to take will eventually take me to where I am meant to be.

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Husband. Father. Brother. Teacher. Coach. Sports fan. Weather geek. Backyard vacationer.

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