Directions to connect

I’m not sure if I have a superpower, but I’m pretty certain among my superflaws—like Kryptonite to Superman—would be my abysmal lack of direction skills. I think the politically correct term is directionally-challenged.

 

Many a time has a friend given me directions containing the words: north, south, east, or west and received my signature blank stare and perfunctory nod. What do I look like, a compass? I want to say in response. Do I have to go and look at a tree now to find which side is growing moss so I’ll know which way is north? Give me information I can use, for Heaven’s sake! Left? Right? Drive towards the water tower? Anything!!

 

Please tell me this has happened to you before: You use the restroom in a restaurant. After you’ve finished and you’re doing that awkward dance to open the door with a paper towel then wedging your foot in the door while throwing away the paper towel in the trashcan, you then step out the door and walk towards the restaurant kitchen, the opposite direction from your table in the dining area.

 

Or how about this one: When we spend the night away from home, I can never remember which side of the bed is mine and which is my husband Brent’s. I have to pretend I’m back in our bedroom, closing my eyes and attempting to orient myself to the unfamiliar bed that is in a different position. Sad but true.

 

The parietal lobe of the brain, the part that handles spatial reasoning, just seems to take a nap when it’s time for me to drive somewhere out of my daily routine. My husband, a whiz when it comes to directions—Thank the Lord!—thinks of the world around him like a map connected by a variety of routes. He’s all about shortcuts and “Let’s see what’s down this street,” and other nonsense that never crosses my mind.

 

Conversely, I think of the world as a series of snapshots: Point A (my house), Point B (my church). There are numerous ways to get from Point A to Point B but I don’t think about those imaginary dotted lines highlighting possible routes. I start up the engine and drive the same way every time. Don’t confuse me with variety!

 

I so wish my parietal lobe was better at revealing the spatial connections around me but connections go beyond driving skills and not getting lost in restaurants.

 

If we can see the world as a connected space, history as a continual wave of time, and each person as a twig on the giant tree of humanity, we could more quickly make relationships and establish networks. Associations reveal context which creates empathy and discourages isolation and exclusion.

 

If given the chance and a willingness to put in the work necessary to find common ground, we can find a Point A (me) to every Point B (each person on God’s green earth).

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