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What Direction To Go?

You hear about people getting lost in the woods, desert, or just went missing for other reasons. Why does this happen? Some of these missing people are never heard of again or their remains are found years later. Are we so different than the animals in the wild?

Birds, fish, and other migratory animals have an instinct on where they need to go, even if the countryside has changed. Do humans have this ability? I believe some individuals have a better sense of direction than others. When we travel somewhere that we have been years before, I usually remember the route. My wife makes light of it, and I usually say “Don’t you remember?” Can we learn a sense of direction or are we a society evolving to be directionally challenged?

Historically, humans have been able to get from point A to point B. Indigenous tribes travel, sometimes great distances, to hunt food, follow the migration of animals, or because natural disasters. During the 1800’s, Americans migrated westward during the Westward Expansion. Direction was key. If you went too far north, the wagon train froze. If you went too far south, you may have ran into tribes of American Indians. If you went at the wrong time, you had catastrophes like the Donner Party.

What do we do when migration in developed societies cease to exist? Do we have an inherited sense of direction? Is it learned? Some people go to survival schools in order to learn survival skills. One session that should be taught is mapping. The time spent teaching map skills does not make you an expert, but it is a start. The instructors, hopefully are trained extensively, took years to learn their skills. To practice is to learn, to teach is to master. We are starting our boys at an early age.  My 2 sons (2 and 4 years old) are always pointing out stores, restaurants, and other landmarks when we are driving. My wife and I usually quiz them on where are we going? What is over there? We want them to explore their surrounding. I think If we let the 4 year old out somewhere near his school, he could make it to school on his own. We would not do that, of course, because it’s a pretty busy road with train tracks running through, construction of an overpass, and the fact of he’s 4 years old.

With being a high school coach, we travel throughout our region for games. I have worked for 3 different schools in 3 totally different areas, so I am becoming more aware of my state. I know back roads, side roads, and ways to get to my destination when there are no roads. Sometimes I think I am turning into my dad. He worked for years as a truck driver, picking up and delivering loads between Houston, TX and Kansas. He seemed to have everything mapped out in his head. This happens because of the countless trips and hundreds of thousands of miles that he drove to provide for the family.

Are we evolving to be without direction? Look at society. Cell phones, GPS, and other electronic gadgets guiding us are the norm. Bluetooth linking your electronic map to your vehicle speakers are making travelling easier, but dumbing down the navigation part of the trip. “In 200 yards, turn right.” Even the cars nowadays dumb down the driving experience with lane departure, emergency vehicle braking, self parking, and numerous other features.

As technology increase, the ability of us to think for ourselves decreases. We can’t add, subtract, multiply or divide. As those basic traits decrease, so will skills for survival. We can travel the same road that everyone else is stuck on, or we can pave our own road. “Roads… Where we are going, we don’t need roads.” Doc Brown from Back to the Future said it exactly. I think it was more of a metaphor for living than the literal aspect of the flying Delorean (which would be cool though).  Have a philosophy to live by, know the direction you are going, and pave a new path for you and yours.

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