November 28, 2015

Better Living Through Garmin

Disclaimer: The missing camping towels and first aid kit have materialized but my camera is really and truly AWOL. I cannot bear to spend my time mastering a new piece of technology, so we are bidding on Ebay for the exact same model, used. (Might even be so exact because it was mine to begin with!). Anyway, bidding ends tomorrow and Himself won't let me touch his camera lest my LOS relapses. But the words are coming fast and furious and so I just have to go on without images. Feel free to print this out and draw pictures between the paragraphs if you need illustrations.

When you drive into the corners that we do, you need a GPS (sat-nav if you are not on my side of the Atlantic). Although Garmin seems bent on trumpeting that we have arrived at our destination "on left" when it is clearly on the right, it does keep us off roads that end in waterfalls and it breaks up our squabbles about who missed what turn.

Garmin does not get thrown by missed turns or closed roads. It does not curl itself up into a ball and whimper, "what now?" or turn its screen off and crawl back into the box. Nope. Garmin just utters the magic word: "Recalculating."

It occurred to me a while back that Garmin has been trying to tell me something. Not about missing right turns, but about a better way to live. Lately, the road through my life has suffered some serious potholes.  It has dumped me on a route that is unfamiliar at best and like something out of a "dark and stormy night" horror movie at worst. I feel lost and find myself desperately looking for the old road, the place where I am supposed to be. That strategy has given me insomnia, a broken heart, and some serious gas.

This month, I started to try it Garmin's way. The "check tires" light appears? A flat tire NOW? REALLY? Recalculating. Take the road to Chuck the Mechanic. The phone rings and now I have to call American Express, the New York Times, Netflix, two doctors and everyone else on Dad's Unending List of Worries?  Recalculating. I am on the path of helping them now,  these two old people who used to help me in every way possible. The dog is terminally ill? Recalculating...oh wait, he doesn't care. Never mind, just feed, walk and wrestle with him until he cannot do those things. The daughter will never prosper? She may never be safe? That little child with the sparkling blue eyes? There must be something--Recalculating. It is time. Turn off the bumpy road to Hope and drive the highway to Reality.

I actually say it out loud when I lose my grip. Recalculating. Like most metaphors, it substitutes image for image that helps me stop fighting, helps me start acclimating. It might even be the key to survival, both in my picayune little world and on a grander scale. Otherwise, why would a Syrian mother clutch a toddler in one hand and an aged father in the other and begin a walk through the Balkans in winter? For some of us, survival depends on recalculating an entire life. 

Not everyone knows that Garmin knows the secret to life. In fact, so many people found the "recalculating" refrain from Garmin annoying that the company removed the word from its products after 2012? So pass it on, ok?


  1. i am SO sad to reach that last paragraph...they removed it?????? Oh, not ok at all.

    I love this very very much and it is one of those Keys that appear maybe a few times
    in one's lifetime that are just so IT. Just so perfect.

    recalculating. oh, o, yes. just Yes.

    do you remember the popularity of ReFraming in i guess the 70's...???? this is so
    kin to that....
    but so much better. because nothing is really Changed, but simply recalculated.
    How do we go forward. there IS a way, just not the one we'd thought or not the one that got us there before.

    I thank you for this, Julie and i so much thank you for that last perfect image...
    the mother, setting out on foot through the Balkans. That image will remain for me
    with ~recalculating~ in modest small print underneath.

    I am going to use this. Will let you know how it goes.
    LOVE to you and to your Garmin

    1. Yeah, they removed it. We're given the key to life and we find it annoying.

  2. Love this! Garmin saved my marriage when we drove out two vehicles 1700+ miles from Virginia to Texas ... "Meet you at the next stop" worked far better than following each other (think tortoise and hare).

    But my all-time favorite Garmin adventure occurred when a completely new road through the Hill Country opened up. At first, "recalculating" repeated and repeated until, at last, ns. Garmin gave up and just went with it. I'm sure there's a metaphor somewhere in there ...

    1. Exactly that. Its like "Surrender Dorothy" for machines.

  3. What a beautiful way to say....what it says.
    I especially like this, " the road through my life has suffered some serious potholes". It speaks to me because I have been navagating that very same road now for several years. Just when I think the potholes have been fixed, the rains come and makes new ones on different roads.

    Thank you so much for this new mantra-in-a-word, recalculating. I shall probably post it in several rooms just so I don't forget to use it and also to let the potholes know.

    1. I am beginning to think, Sharon, that the roads are probably supposed to have potholes and when you get a stretch of smooth sailing, you should just drop everything and kiss the ground. I hope it works for you--saying it out loud really does help me.

  4. where did you see that image...the woman walking.....
    is there a way i can go find it?

    1. But just google syrian refugee walking in Europe under images and you can, unfortunately, choose from a million photos.

  5. I enjoy getting lost & resent those bossy sat nav tools, much prefer reading a map!

    1. "The journey of a hawk depends on both the hawk and the wind. The wind is your life. It is all the things that happen from the time you are born and the time you go home. Elegant spirits don't know what will come up next, the same way that hawks don't know which way the wind will blow next.

      This doesn't bother them, because they don't try to control their lives any more than hawks try to control the wind."
      from Soul Stories by Gary Zukav

  6. Your wise words have once again helped me to reconsider my personal pitfalls..........find self avidly recalculating my outlook on : both sons' academic attitude, or lack of. ......; what constituties a messy home? How fulfilling does my office life have to be? There's more. ....however 'tis enough for now. Thx to you and garmin