Map Reading in Bad Weather

Some years ago I took my eldest daughter to look at a prospective university. It was in a medium sized city largely unknown to us. We had no satellite navigation and an ordinary country map to guide us but signs to the university were clear and we still arrived in  good time.  Everything went according to plan , and included a nice selection of free biscuits with tea.  Going home should be no problem then,  so we settled into the car with that pleasant sense of a job well done and started on our journey.

We got to some ring road looking for the sign for a familiar town and cruised on as the heavens opened and the wipers worked frantically to keep the windscreen clear. Light was fading and visibility was not all it could have been. My daughter had the map on her lap and I told her to look out for signs to our exit as I concentrated on driving the car safely on the road, which had now become very busy with rush hour traffic. Suddenly her voice pipped up. “There’s Macdonalds” she said, This was true but not necessarily helpful in the circumstances. I turned to look at her and she was smiling happily and looking around her enjoying all the new sights available.   It dawned on me that map reading was not necessarily one of her strengths. The rain and spray were making progress difficult and we seemed to be going on and on while I looked for some guidance as to the route we should take. After a prolonged period of driving with an increasing sense of confusion, my daughter said, “There’s MacDonalds  again” , and I realised we were already on our second lap of the road with plenty more laps available, depending on the state of the fuel tank.  It seemed as though our journey would never end and just keeping the car out of harms way was all I could do in the circumstances ,Eventually , however, we found a sign to a familiar landmark and made our escape unscathed from this period of total confusion.

Ever since the dawn of time one generation has looked at the next shaking their heads and complaining about falling standards, lack of concern and the new anarchy which is threatening the world order as we see it. The Romans said it and now we say it but the world is still here despite all our misgivings. When we are young, if we are lucky, we think we will meet the perfect man or women, find a job which expresses us and be discovered for being the beautiful gifted person that we are. Following a few disasters, wrong choices of mate and other hiccups which obscure our sense of the future we become increasingly baffled about the meaning and order of life. For some of us God still exists as the central unchanging focus  but for many even this has been called into question leaving us driving in the middle of nowhere without a map.

Naturally, when your lost you ask someone else for direction, but in the course of the conversation you gradually realise that they don’t know where they are either leaving you more bewildered rather than less. Once more we are driving round this ring road with a developing sense of unease, looking for some sign or guidance as to the route we should follow. One of the things I do know is, that if your lost don’t bother to ask me for direction because there is no one worse at giving them than myself, but somehow I have learned that not knowing were you are and discovering whats round the corner is half the fun of life. Sharing that experience with people you love is the other half. . Heavens, there’s Macdonalds again.

About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

Trying to remember what my future is
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12 Responses to Map Reading in Bad Weather

  1. Cyberian says:

    Very true. Does progress mean it’s a different Macdonalds each time?


  2. Jeanna says:

    You’ve inspired me this morning! Think I may write my own map bit… with a giant thank you in it for you, because my inspiration’s truly been lacking lately. 🙂


  3. backonmyown says:

    I love your road map/life map metaphor. And I look forward to your posts. Keep writing.


  4. Pingback: My car, the stereo, and a map | Xanax or Running Shoes?

  5. Miss Emm says:

    Isn’t it interesting how times change us all? Here I was thinking that I was gadget savvy only to be outdone and shown off by an 8 year old girl. The best part is that I have used a rotary phone and she will only see them in museums.


  6. eof737 says:

    True… that was a great story and you shared it with humor. 🙂


  7. Haha I hate being lost but you know you’ll find home in the end. Good to know there’s always a Macdonalds to guide the way! And at least you had each other 🙂


  8. Caroline says:

    In our family it was the words “I know a short cut” which sent a collective shiver down the spines of those in the car


  9. I love this and I totally agree, it’s always fun finding out whats around the corner. Discovery is apart of life and why not live life. Love this article.


  10. When I left my daughter at Glasgow University the first time I set off in the wrong direction on the motorway and it was only because I realised the setting sun was on the wrong side of the car!! Luckily I made the ferry but it was touch and go- hardest part was getting turned around. Had to pull into a shopping centre and guess what I saw – yes a Macdonalds! Love your comparison to life and as always made me smile 🙂


  11. elleswim says:

    Great metaphor! I love this! To me, there is something incredibly exciting about not knowing what is lurking around the corner. Sometimes, it’s fun to travel without a map and to go off the beaten path. You never know what you might find.


  12. tasykes says:

    One of my favorite cartoons by my favorite cartoonist Gary Larson shows a couple driving past a road sign that says “You are now entering the middle.” On the woman’s lap is a map of a region labeled “nowhere.” “Things are going from bad to worse,” she exclaims, an expression I’m no longer able to use without thinking of this cartoon.
    Maps indeed are a wonderful metaphor. Thank you for visiting my blog and giving me a chance to discover yours.


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