The other day it occurred to a young friend of mine that the folks of my generation didn’t have cellphones when we were traveling around the highways and byways of life, hiking, climbing, having our youthful adventures. My young friend looked sort of astounded by this. “What happened if you got lost? What happened if your car broke down? What if you needed to be rescued?!”
And these are interesting questions, to be sure. I actually did get lost once or twice. And my car DID break down on a mountain road once – far away from a mechanic. And there was that time I sprained my ankle on a hike when I was by myself. And what I did at those times was… well… you know how Luke Skywalker switches off his targeting computer when he’s coming down that trench near the end of Star Wars IV, and depends on The Force instead? Yeah. Well. Those of us in the Boomer Generation did not even HAVE targeting computers to switch off – or cellphones or iPads or GPS systems or talking cars or Siri – so we learned early to trust in something besides technology for our salvation.
In my case, I learned early to trust in the Power of Good – to reach out to that power and immerse myself in the calm and peace of it, and expect that an answer to every problem would present itself. When I got lost, I learned to nose around until I would get un-lost. When my car broke down on the way to a snow-shoeing adventure, a ranger appeared and, with the use of a paperclip, somehow got my car running again. When I sprained my ankle on a hike, I wrapped myself up in what I’d come to see as the truth about myself – that I was the whole and perfect reflection of Love, and could never, for a moment, reflect anything un-Godlike, and could never, for a moment, be separated from all that was good. I managed to hike down the trail and drive myself home – and by the time I got home my ankle was healed.
Today I found myself trusting in The Force once again. I’d gone down to visit my parents – two hours to the south of me. There were several things that I needed to help my parents take care of while I was there – among them a trip to the local Fred Meyers supermarket, and a trip to a barber for my dad. Mondays are not a good day to find a barber – as we soon found out, most barbershops are closed on Mondays. So I decided to save that errand for last, and to try to find the local Fred Meyers store first.
I knew how to get to the store going the long way, but I was pretty sure there must be a quicker way to get there. As I was driving down the avenue, speculating on what street might take me to the store, I suddenly spotted a barbershop to the right – with its door wide open! I did a quick turn into the parking lot and ran inside to find out if the barber could fit my dad into his schedule – which he could, and did. About twenty minutes later Dad and I were back in the car with Mom – Dad sporting a dapper new haircut. I wouldn’t have found that barbershop if I’d been following directions from Mapquest or Siri or whatever.
So now I needed to find Fred Meyers. I have no GPS thingy in my car – and there’s nothing built into the car that can talk to me – and I probably wouldn’t know how to use it, if there was. But as I was driving down the avenue I realized I was approaching the highway, and I knew the store was this side of the highway somewhere. “Over there somewhere,” I thought to myself, and made a left turn. On the next busy road I made another left turn, and then, sort of feeling my way along the street, I made a right when i came to a stoplight. (I’m guessing most Boomers will know what I mean when I say, “feeling my way along” – that was how we used to find places in the olden days.) A block after I’d made my right turn, a big ol’ Fred Meyers sign suddenly appeared in front of me! (Insert a choir of heavenly angels singing “Haleleujah” here.)
“Use the Force, Boomer!”
At first I thought you were mixing Star Wars and BattleStar Galactica references….
Like you, I used “the force” a lot: just somehow “knew” which way to go, how to get there. “Follow ones nose”; “fly by the seat of ones pants”. No one understood it, or does still. It just works. I find that relying on GPS robs me of that “connection” to the “Whatever”, like relying on a crutch prevents re-developing strength in the leg. I miss it often.
Some of it was simple navigation: when on the west coast, I could always “feel” which way the ocean was, or could see a mountain that gave me east-west north-south bearings. Just knowing that much prevents much “lost-ness”.
There were more mundane tricks, though. When lost, I found that if I pulled into a gas station that had a garage (remember those? When did your mechanic stop selling gas, and your gas station stop fixing your car?), they’d almost always have a big local map in their window facing out, so even if they were closed, you could read it and figure out where you were, and how to get to where you were going.
But even today, even with a GPS, I still find myself using Dirk Gently’s trick of following someone who knows like they know where they’re going. Works really well in big cities. GPS tells you the most logical way to the airport. Following a cabbie gets you there the most efficient way.
Or winds you up at the convention center. But that’s where you were needed to be at anyway, right?
Ohmygosh! Yes! We seem to work in the same way, my friend – intuition, feeling my way around, or just stopping at the local gas station to ask someone how to get to where I’m going. And I always ended up where I needed to be. Still do, mostly. 🙂
I just saw this post for the first time tonight as it was linked in your latest and I can say that I know what you are talking about! Sometimes it amazes me at some of the things i did back then that I probably would not do now! LOL. One adventure I especially remember is after graduating High School in my hometown near Montgomery Alabama , I drove my old Volkswagen , that I had purchased with funds from working summers at the local Holiday Inn, all the way to Fairbanks Alaska to the attend the University where I had been accepted. I was 17 and all I was carrying with me was a small suitcase of clothes and a few personal belongings and my Bible and Science And Health with the Quartley and very little money and of course no phone . I did have some paper maps! Lol , well I allowed myself an entire month to get there as I planned on stopping in certain towns to get odd jobs for gas and food money which seems very naive to me now, Lol but I arrived on time with several flat tires being the only major problem! Those were the days!
Oh! I love this! Thank you, Rick!