I used the GPS once or twice in the past weeks to get to a destination on the other side of Geneva that I was unfamiliar with. However, I did not use it wisely, preferring to follow my own way for the first part of the journey, intending to pay attention to the GPS only for the last complicated bit. This succeeded in confusing the system as I ignored instruction after instruction. So for most of the journey all I could hear was “Turn Left …. Recalculating…turn right ….recalculating…. recalculating ……. recalculating…”. If a device could be said to be frustrated this one certainly was.
I could have done with some sort of system in Berlin. I did not know the city at all and the traffic was quite intense. I could pass the same landmark a few times from different directions without knowing where I was. Then I would see it and say, “Ah yes, there’s the Potzdamer Platz, I know where I am”.
For a lot of the time it can feel as if our lives are like a busy street full of traffic, with cars, buses and trams going in every direction. It can be confusing, even disorientating. Maybe sometimes we can move in a straight line, like on the highway taking us home, but although we get there faster we still feel as if we have been running. Things are moving and changing almost continually so it is hard to step back and get our bearings. I certainly like to think I know where I am going, on a straight line with a clear direction and a firm sense of inner coherence. However, life often slips through my fingers, as much as I want to hold onto it, and assume that it is in my control. I can go round in circles for a period. Worse, I can ignore a deep inner voice thinking that I now know the way better.
However, gradually, if I stop and step back, I see gaps in the traffic. No matter how fast things seem to move, I am aware of myself as the one who is travelling, underneath all the movement. I can step back and slow down. In reality, on a day-to-day level, I think I am like the confused GPS. I spend most of the time recalculating. And I am at ease with that. Starting over and over again seems to be to be the heart of practice. I have given up on the belief of a fixed consistency, pushing on towards a definite goal. I now can see that, even when confused, I am learning something from a different but still a sure kind of knowing. A kind of knowing that guides us when we are travelling blind, because many things in our lives do not become clear until much later. And, in the end, the way we travel is more important than the destination.