Those of you who know me or read this blog may be familiar with the special relationship I have with my GPS, the miraculous device I call "Mother" because of the gentle and sometimes not-so-gentle guidance she provides—take the next left, take the next left! But seriously, before Mother came along I lived in fear of traveling anywhere—of course I did, leaving for assignments, ample maps and directions and still getting lost with sweaty palms and often tears on old dirt roads in the middle of nowhere or worse on a highway with four lanes of traffic and no option to bail.
But big road trips? The ones filled with possibility instead of dictated by responsibility? Those I avoided—they were the great unknown. Then came Mother, plug in a destination and she takes you there, get lost and she reroutes you. It was the salvation I was looking for and I converted from reluctant traveler to albeit technology dependent gypsy wanderer. Sure, I admit Mother didn't always get it right, there was that cowpath she led me to on the way to a meeting of the Hubbard Hall Writers' Group, but that was largely because Mother had a fluke—map updates sent her into a tizzy, so I had to be content with her original knowledge, which for my purposes was extensive and with her I was never alone.
Mother died on Thursday just before my annual trip to Woodstock. Actually, she probably died earlier than that—hidden away in permanent slumber in the dark catacombs of my glove compartment, but I only noticed before my trip. Sure I've been coming to Woodstock for the last four years, generally knew the way, but to me this crisis was tragic. There was no way I could travel without Mother. Already late, I had to reroute my trip, heading int he opposite direction to buy a Mother replacement at the closest Best Buy. $174.00 later I came out with a new Mother, affectionately called "Ma" and a service plan in case she break down. Ma is bigger and supposedly better than Mother—I'll let you know—we are just getting acquainted, but already I know she is a comfort.
I called my friend Joan who seems to find getting lost an adventure and shared my story. She, who has no cellphone or even access to google maps, seemed shocked. What did you do before? she asked. I didn't go anywhere I admitted. I mean I traveled with you, but not on my own. My other friends have commented on my new found confidence once Mother came into my life.
Unfortunately, I think I've been waiting for Mother in other areas of my life as well—someone to show me which way to go and then I'd be off and running, someone to reassure me when I find myself in the all-too-overwhelming, fast-moving, incomprehensible traffic of life. I'm not looking for someone to tell what to do, just point me in the right direction. But I'm not crazy or helpless, I want freedom and freewill. I want adventure, but just a a padded unknown, something soft to fall on when I get a little nervous—a confident voice that reminds me I can take the next left since I can't find that at the local Best Buy, I set out on my adventures with the hope the nudge and netting will be there when I need it and I look for support along the way—mentors, friends, road signs—help is usually there when you need it. Part of growth I guess is learning to mother yourself and I am learning, choosing new directions left and right (pun intended!) But, when it comes to actual road travel don't expect me to abandoning "Ma" anytime soon—some things are too good to be true—all that guidance in the palm of my hand!