In an unfamiliar place, I find the GPS of great benefit. When I plug in the destination, ramp up the sound, the voice guidance gets me where I want to go. Except there are exceptions. I went to a calligraphy conference near Seattle. I put in the name of the college and listened attentively to the voice as it directed me to the wrong place: a dead-end street next to Puget Sound. If the GPS hadn't led me astray, I would never have realized how close and beautiful the Sound was to my destination.
I have been lost in Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Paris, where I found new places not did not appear on a map or in a guide. There is also a value in getting lost even in the place where you have lived for a long time.
I forgot to look at my GPS halfway to the freeway in the Oakland hills. I'm glad I did. I knew basically where I was going, but I didn't expect to find the hidden village of Montclair, which appeared, just like magic, in front of me. Montclair consists of a few close streets, with several crowded cafes, independent stores, posters advertising local events, and people walking or stopping to talk with each other. The kind of place that makes a community lively and engaging for its residents.
In my old car without GPS, I went to visit a friend. I tried to reach her house by going in reverse from the way I had gone the week before. I missed the last left-hand turn that would have taken me to her house. Once past the street, there was nowhere to turn around, so I found myself driving down a winding hillside road. I felt lost in the woods as I drove down. No other cars drove by and the vegetation was as wild as could be near an East Bay suburb. At the bottom, I came to the San Pablo Dam Reservoir, a large body of blue water. I was on an adventure.
I kept following the road, now called Wildcat Canyon Road, up to the top of the Berkeley hills. I took a right on to Grizzly Peak Road, another narrow, winding street near Tilden Park and the Berkeley Rose Garden, past charming houses till I came to Marin Avenue. Another left, and I found myself driving straight down one of the steepest streets I've ever been on. Each time I crested an intersection, I felt the same stomach-churning feeling of a roller coaster ride. Luckily for me, each intersection had a stop sign or I could see myself sailing high off the road to land on the next section of hill.
|Thanks to AAA who still offer paper maps.|
With GPS or without, I find a value in getting lost. Being lost and finding my way, means I have to trust myself, follow my instincts, ask for help, and always look back where I came from.
I just finished a book by Robert Moor called On Trails, where he thinks deeply about the value of trails, how they originate and what we would be without them. Good read.