Monday, September 5, 2016

Lost and Found

I am  an engineer who is a bit of a techno-geek. If there is one thing I hate is being lost. I like to know where I am and where I am going. So when I started using smart-phones, the map app was my favorite.  Not only could I see where I was, I could see the traffic ahead! This provided the opportunity to see problems in advance and detour around them. Knowledge is certainly power! However the information has to be correct.

Over time I began to notice that my map location was not following my true location. I also noticed that the exercise app was getting the paths and distances wrong. This was totally unacceptable.

I searched the internet to see if anyone else has had this problem. Indeed they did! It turns out that a GPS could have an accumulation of errors that might need to be cleared out. However, to do that required a GPS test app. So off to the app store I went.

I installed the GPS test app so I could clear out the errors. After  opening the app, I discovered a previously unseen world. It was fascinating. A live map showed the location of approximately 20 satellites orbiting overhead. At first the symbols were gray. One by one, the symbols changed to yellow, orange, and then green as the GPS locked on to them. When enough satellites locked, the GPS established a fix. I cleared the GPS and the location locks came much faster.

I have observed that life can be like that. Sometimes we get lost. Errors accumulate. Noise, stress, fatigue, grief, and difficulties of our journey all take their toll.  We lose our bearings. We can no longer see the "satellites" that guide us. I like to think of these "satellites" as clues to our location and direction in life. So what are these "satellites"?  Conventions. Manners. Ethics. History. Tribe. Religion. Our "spirit" or inner voice. Our conscience. Our upbringing. Our families. Consciously or subconsciously, we rely on these reference points for guidance.

Sometimes we don't know that we are lost. We have been running on auto-pilot for so long, we don't realize we have lost our way. However there may be hints. A short temper. Irritability. Depression. The need to "escape". The need for substances.

Not only do we need to know where we are, we need to know where we are going. What is the destination? Status? Wealth? Fame? Leisure?  Family life? Social life?

Once we have our destination in mind, we have to set priorities. What will it take to get there?  Is it worth the cost? Life tends to be a zero-sum endeavor. What things will we have to give up to get the things we desire? We cannot have it all.

Just like the GPS, we might have to do a reset, clear out the corrupt data, and re-establish the lock. We might need to simply rest. Take care of ourselves. We might need a spiritual retreat. We might need to work on our important relationships. We might avail ourselves of the wise counsel of friends and community. The point is that our internal guidance system has a limit. It needs to be cared for.

In the end I was able to reset my GPS and get pretty decent location locks. Then I dropped the phone and cracked the glass. No reset helps that, so I upgraded. Wow! The new phone locked instantly even if it caught a sliver of sky! In my office building however, was metal coated glass that completely block thermal and electromagnetic radiation. Inside this building, there is no GPS. There are times when you have to step outside to see to where you are.