I miss maps. 

By now, almost no-one has maps (or gloves, for that matter)in their glove department.

I have had several recent experiences with GPS (and lack of….). 

The first experience I will relate was when I returned my daughter to her new home about an hour north of Manhattan. My daughter was in the car and obviously knew the way, so I followed her instructions and we got there without incident. The return trip back to Canada without her was another matter. Both she and her husband gave me instructions (which differed….) and I set out, confident that I would remember the left turns, the bridge crossing and the route numbers, etc. 

I didn’t. 

I got hopelessly turned around and knew I was going the wrong way when I passed a sign saying “Entering New Jersey”.

When in the US I turn off data and roaming etc. on my cell phone because I am “cheap” that way. One time I didn’t and my bill was stupidly large…. I am from another era and never figured out how to use my phone properly while travelling. My eyes glaze over when someone tries to explain stm cards and dilithium crystals and warp factors etc. 

I found a café and got a coffee and asked how to get to the I87. They said “just check your GPS. I explained that I am from Canada and I did not have GPS (further propagating the myth that we live in igloos). The person then said “I’ll send you the directions by airdrop”. Great, I thought. I got her airdrop and headed out to the car confident I knew what to do. The instructions for the route back had about ten significant turns. The first three I had in my head, so did not refer to the air dropped instructions. When I did turn to them, the file wouldn’t open unless I downloaded some other quackery requiring internet and some password or the other…. So, up Shit Creek without a paddle again.  I decided to proceed anyway. I saw a sign that referred to I 87 and turned. One turn just before I was supposed to….. Misled. There were two choices and I took the “road less travelled” just to spice up the trip…..not.

After several other miscues and inquiries at a doughnut shop (Donut in the US) I got on the highway pointed north and the rest was easy. 

I miss maps

This morning I checked an address on my computer for a celebration of life that is in a rural area of Quebec that is unfamiliar to me. The initial map was a dot on a tiny sea of green. I zoomed out twice to see if I recognized anything (I didn’t) so I scrolled out further and saw the big picture which made sense to me and I have a clearer idea of where it is. 

This got me thinking about tunnel vision which is the absence of peripheral vision. I realized that almost all of us spend a huge amount of time looking at screens and only seeing a focal point. It is like looking through a lens of a camera or a telescope or binoculars. One can see a part of what is there completely, or stated another way one can see completely a part of what is there. 

Standing on top of a mountain, one can see a spectacular panoramic view. Through a lens, the view is limited.

Two weeks ago I went to Varennes to visit dear friends for the first time ever. I checked the route online and it seemed easy and direct. I thought that I had better check Waze on my phone to see which bridge or tunnel to take or avoid because they are always doing renovations to things on weekends. I put the destination in my phone and I took the Champlain bridge and the 138 east towards Varennes. I drove along enjoying the view of the St. Lawrence River from the southern shore. I got to Varennes and the Waze told me there was a railroad crossing ahead, but it didn’t tell me I was ‘there’. I drove about 10 km past Varennes and pulled over at the next town. Surely enough, Waze did not tell me I had overshot my destination. I then put the address into google maps and the annoying female voice that can’t pronounce French names got me to my friend’s home. 

I miss maps.

This week I took the kids in my “Out and About”,(pronounced Oot and Aboot)(to further propagate Canadian tropes for American readers). activity to a small museum. The assistant for one of the children asked if she could drive there as she had to go to another job after the activity. I told her exactly where it was and that I would meet up with her at the statue of strongman Louis Cyr at the intersection of rue Saint-Antoine and rue St. Jacques. We, who had taken two city buses and had walked for another ten minutes, got there before her. She should have been waiting for us. She was relying on GPS instead of looking out the window. The name for Montreal should be “Detour City” because traffic cones and barricades pop up everywhere and  send previously sane drivers into rubber rooms. This girl drove everywhere in further widening circles and had passed the spot we were to meet four times!!! Tunnel vision. Her trajectory reminded me of a Beagle which was once our family dog. Fergie (named after the Duchess of York….my father claimed “our Fergie had a better lineage”….lol) was the worst beagle in existence. She was so stupid (but loveable and loyal) that I saw her catch the scent of a rabbit and tore around ridiculously back and forth and this way and that while the rabbit, as cool as Bugs Bunny, was frozen in plain view. The bunny was camouflaged, but visible. Fergie ran right past the bunny within a metre several times..lol. Soon Fergie gave up without her prey (Royals have little work ethic) and the rabbit lived to see another day. 

When we only rely on only one sense, or one source of information (the assistant with her GPS, the dog and her nose, or me with my memory trials and an app that didn’t do what I wanted it to). We can get lost. 

People smothering their senses of the moment is another form of tunnel vision.

A young man passed me on the sidewalk the other day. He had headphones on. Not earbuds, but “cans” that completely enclosed his ears and he was also staring intently at his phone. I said to my walking companion that I felt sorry for that guy. My walking companion asked why and I told him that the man missed hearing the song sparrow, the blue jay and the chickadee that we had heard in the last 30 seconds, blocked out the jackhammer we had passed by and was unaware of the bicycle traffic he was sharing the path with.. My companion said he hadn’t hear them either. I said that he had heard them, but he was not listening for them. Hearing is passive and listening is active. Headphones dude was actively listening, but importing his own sonic reality and missing out on actual reality.

The more we stare at screens and dull our senses with entertainment, the less we experience the gift of life and the beauty and ugliness that surround us.

Moral of the story? Two choices: Glance at a map, but be here now? or stare at the virtual and be somewhere else? 

I miss maps.

One thought on “Tunnel Vision

  1. Tunnel vision is way too overpracticed. People’s sense of direction is totally out of whack these days. I still enjoy writing down directions Mapquest style instead of relying on a robot voice to guide. You really get to see the path (and hear the chickadees) along the way.


    Liked by 1 person

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