Why experts still read the manual. Life Lesson #16

Learn to read maps.

Centrax delivers lost luggage for the airlines at Minneapolis/St Paul international airport. For a few years right out of college, I was one of their contractors, delivering the delayed bags to homes and businesses all over the Twin Cities.

In the days before GPS, we had to learn to read the map books. Kings and Hudson’s were the standards. Learning to read these maps made the difference between making good money and lousy money. To find some places, a simple glance at the number would suffice. 1525 Portland Avenue S would be somewhere between 15th and 16th street, on the odd side of the street. No need to consult the map. Other times, even the map didn’t clarify where we were going. The homeowner would have to meet us on the street.

At first, the lines and markers made no sense to me, requiring constant revision. As time went on, the grid dropped in my head.  However, if you ever got lost, you’d call George*. George was almost incomprehensible, his diction a teacher’s nightmare. But George knew everywhere in the Cities.

Funny thing about George though. He still consulted the map frequently. He knew more than all of us combined, but he checked himself according to the map all the time.

Learning how to do life is often like reading a map. We repeat mistakes, over and over. Wisdom and maturity comes in when we take a step back and say “wait a minute. I’ve been here before. How did I get here?”

Coming up on 40, I realize I’m not quite where I want to be in some areas of my life. I’m re-evaluating, looking at the map again. How did I get here, and how do I get where I want to go?

Still consulting the map.


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