Saturday, August 29, 2009

No Directions Home

I have the worst sense of direction of anyone I know. And I'm an even worse map reader. I've been lost all over the world, and occasionally even get lost in the one horse town I live in. I'm actually slightly better without a map. With a map, I'll invariably end up going the complete opposite direction I'm meant to be going. Without a map, and with a bit of luck, I might actually get slightly nearer the intended destination.

It all depends if I'm on foot or driving. At least if I'm on foot, I can ask for directions. It usually takes asking at least three or four people for the way, and I'll get there in the end. Driving, I'm useless. All roads look the same to me.

But you know what, I don't care. People are so in a rush to get to their chosen destination, there's no time any more to get off the beaten track, explore, get lost, wander. At heart, I am a flâneur. And, after all, the journey is the destination.

I was recently introduced to the wonders of the satnav. So Bob Dylan's announcement he's going to lend his voice to a satnav system filled me with joy. Especially when the troubadour elaborated: "I think it would be good if you are looking for directions and hear my voice saying something like: 'Left at the next street, no a right – you know what? Just go straight.'"

But the funny thing is, people ask me for directions all the time. No matter where I am. About once a week or so on average. Usually I'm honest and say I have no idea. Other times I'll feel more adventurous and proffer either a general direction (it's sort of over there somewhere) or some complicated left, right, straight on, right again, third on your left. Either way, I make a hasty getaway afterwards.

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