Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What My GPS Taught Me About Change

I was driving home from the other end of the state last night, cruising up I-295. There is a currently a major repaving project in progress on the road (the Maine saying goes "We have two seasons: winter and road construction") and my GPS was extremely unhappy. I didn't need the GPS to find my way home up the interstate, of course, but it had been a very long day and evening, and wanted the periodic vocal reminders to help keep me focused and alert.

The most efficient way to repave this particular stretch of interstate, someone decided, was to close the northbound lanes completely, detour all the southbound traffic, and swing northbound traffic over to the southbound lanes. So, I was heading north on the southbound side of the road when my GPS started speaking: "Recalibrating. Recalibrating. Recalibrating." A few seconds of silence, then, "Recalibrating. Recalibrating. Recalibrating." I glanced at the little screen, and there was the car icon, dutifully heading up the wrong side of the road. The two sets of lanes are far enough apart to make the GPS take note, and the little unit did not know what to make of it.

The silly little thing doesn't know what to make of the change, I thought. And how often has that happened to me, or to people I know? People wandering around in a daze after a spouse leaves them a note saying, "Color me gone." People who have worked for a company for 30 years suddenly finding themselves to be personae non gratae, and facing the search for another job, another career. People who have always done something the same way, day in and day out, now being told that "It doesn't work that way anymore. Now, you have to do it this way." People who have been used to living in a nice house, suddenly finding themselves without credit and without a home.

Then I thought about how we recalibrate, and how our friends understand—somehow—while we get through it.

Change is inevitable. It is not always good, or productive, or even needed in the great scheme of things. Change just is, and we need to wrap ourselves around it as well as we can.


Give it some thought.

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