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?