When I visit my daughter in California, she generously lends me her Volvo and the GPS unit so that I can thread my way around Santa Cruz and environs without losing myself on the myriad paved snaking roads through hills and trees, around sloughs, past shopping malls and bungalows, all just as fascinating and absent from my pampa panorama as the majestic ocean that keeps me from veering too far west.
As I buzz along wide city avenues or the serpentine back roads, the disembodied feminine voice streaming from the portable Garmin unit pleasantly offers me the turn-by-turn directions , eg., "Turn left in 100 yards." Best of all, when I make a mistake, this unseen navigator never hollers, "Hey, you just missed the off ramp! Aren't you listening!?" Furthermore, she never once has criticized me for adding time to the trip by making a wrong turn (and you might wonder how this is possible, but if you've driven on Seabright Avenue where there's this funny intersection right by the Laundromat and burger place parking lot, you know what I mean).
The great thing is that every time things go wrong, every time I start to get lost, she just resets our compass and starts giving me directions from where I am. No harping on where I could be or should be, no patronizing cheeriness about the fun of exploring unplanned byways. She doesn't even care if the detour was due to a closed road or to driver error; she is focused on the goal. No blame! Just back to the task.
I like that attitude: Just take a deep breath, and let's go at it again! In living the expat life, (when I remember to use it) this perspective has helped me channel my energy constructively.
I am going to take Ms. Garmin as a role model for how I talk to myself and others when things get off track. Let's just get back on track. Let's start from where we are and move forward. No recriminations. No regrets. Keep your eye on the goal.
There's just one little change I might make. (Are you listening, Garmin folks?) When I arrive at my pre-selected destination without any detours (especially driver-induced ones), I'd like to hear that pleasant voice say one more thing: "Way to go, high five! You did it!"