I was in Boston recently, navigating around the city with the Nav system on my phone and doing well…until the time I was preparing to leave. My car was at a stoplight and I could see, just a half block away, the sign for entry on to the Mass Pike. Let me make this clear: I could see the sign. The entrance for the road home was a half block away. Clear. Easy. Drive 200 feet, make turn,head home. Except that the nav system directed me around the corner, down a side street, over two blocks, and then back to where I had been at first. I didn’t take that set of directions. Of course I didn’t. I have two eyes and when the information I’m being fed is in direct conflict with my brain and what I’m seeing, I’m going to listen to my brain.
But the whole experience reminded me of how difficult I’m finding it to make my way around my new town. I’ve lived in a lot of places and I tend to get familiar with roads and key buildings fairly quickly. EXCEPT… I didn’t have a phone with a nav system before, and we’ve never had one in our car. What was different this time was that I was patching in my proposed location rather than looking at a map in advance and making some sticki-notes to tell me where to turn, sticking it on my dashboard, and heading out. I used to look ahead, lock it in to my brain, note the navigational points for future reference (like the gas station, the weird green house, etc), and then find my way there. To go home I’d do it all backward.
With a nav system, you might have eyes and a brain but you’re as blind as can be. You’re not looking around and taking in what you need for directions, you’re listening to a voice tell you where to go. You might as well be blind because you’re not taking in anything except that voice.
THAT’S why I can’t just get myself around a new place anymore. I’m not processing where I am and where I need to be. I’m relying on someone else to do that for me. So I’m turning it off unless I really need it. I’m getting older and I need to remind my brain how to work and let it get as much activity as it can, work things out on its own, and help me find my way home. No nav system is going to keep me young.