Sometimes I’d be hard pressed to find my way out of a paper bag.
My sense of direction is not all that bad as I know the sun comes up in the east. My directions favour orientations based on elevation, not north and south. If you head in a direction away from a mass of water, the route is up. If your route ascends from your starting point, naturally the direction is up. Take a ninety degree turn from this and I’ll give you the same sort of direction, up and down in relation to water and hills.
A map is a more economical, practical, clearer and more memorable way of giving directions and expressing spatial relationships than writing the same information using only words and sentences. — Black Cockatoo Publishing.
Maybe I come by this honestly. I didn’t grow up with my bearings anchored my water, but my mother was keenly involved in maps as a professional draughtsperson. She started when everything was drawn by hand: shading, contour lines, roads and waterways. Her ability to make a map is flawless; her ability to read and comprehend directions is poor. I remember we were in Austria once, traveling by car to reach the famous Schoenbrunn Castle in Vienna. It took us 10 minutes to get there from our hotel, and then an hour and a half to get back. Granted, there were a lot of one way streets that we suddenly couldn’t access on the way back, but it prompted my younger brother to proclaim that my mom had ‘a sense of direction like a rock.’
I do get disoriented easily. I can enter a building in one door, take the elevators up three floors, come back down and leave through a completely different exit. I did that once after a root canal and spent 20 minutes looking for my car. I failed to recognize that I was no longer in a parking lot, and that I had not parked on the street. I could say that it was the drugs affecting my sense of judgement, memory and basic positioning, but this would be excusing myself. I could easily be lost, not at all compromised, within a half block’s distance from where I’d left my car.
Technology these days is a great enabler. You can find a map on your phone and it can show you how to get where you want to go. You do, however, need to be able to read the map. This is where the ‘up’ and ‘down’ of my direction sense fails me. I assume that if I am looking at a map, it is always oriented with north being at the top. Ergo, when you are traveling forward in your car, you must be going up the map. How is it that I can hold the map upright and we travel downstream in our car?
I plot and map-out all my runs that are not the same, routine routes. I write out my directions, but have to turn my head to pretend I am actually on a street to correctly identify a direction as Right or Left. Even so, I do get this wrong at times and lead the group astray.
I think I am simply cursed. I rely on my phone to give me directional information even if I don’t understand it completely. I don’t really feel a need to learn either. If I point in the wrong direction either someone will correct me or I’ll eventually realize I’m going the wrong way, and go the other way. Perhaps a little time-consuming, but the result is the same. The irony of this inability to read a map correctly is that I’m quite fascinated by orienteering. I suppose then it would not just be a map to contend with, but also a compass. Maybe too many props would just lead me into water.
Maybe I’ll just stay home and watch “The Amazing Race.” Then I can watch others get lost instead.