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Missing the Road

June 5th, 2014 Posted by Susan's Musings 10 comments

I have been searching in vain for a support group catering to the geographically challenged. Moving to a new city a few weeks ago means that I often have no idea where I am. His voice filling with desperation my husband beseeches, “Don’t you know that P___ Street is east of us?” I don’t even know where east is.

Slowly, I am recognizing certain streets and landmarks. I am beginning to find my way to the supermarket and library without aimless meandering. Even as I do so, I know that I can’t be alone. Understandably, a support group would be difficult to organize. By the time the participants found their way to the venue, the meeting time would be over.

Nonetheless, my desperate driving as I seek in vain for a friendly street sign is a human experience I share with others. As someone who sometimes dreams of writing a book, it is with a sinking heart that I acknowledge that someone, sometime, will seize on my ‘disablity’ and flesh out a character whose thoughts and actions will mimic my own. 

This has happened to me before. I had a jolt of recognition once upon reading a novel and seeing my own emotions aptly caught. One of the characters had submitted an article to a competition and then decided that it was so awful that she didn’t even look up the results (where she, of course, was the winner). The first time I submitted an article to a magazine and months of silence passed, I began to worry that perhaps they didn’t want such an atrocious writer to read their periodical. After all, my submission wasn’t even worthy of a rejection letter! I was on the verge of embarrassedly canceling my subscription when a check arrived in the mail with an advance copy of the issue that included my story.

So, I do expect to meet my geographically challenged counterpart in a story one day. Why don’t I use my ever-so-human predilections myself to write a novel, winning fame and fortune? It is for the same reason that many of us have great business ideas that we don’t execute or envision adventures that never actualize.

Thinking of ideas is easy. Executing them is not. As I visualize myself writing in a cozy ship’s cabin with exquisite views through the portholes, someone else is getting up at 4 a.m. in a dingy apartment and writing for two hours before starting their day. As Thomas Sowell writes, when we don’t accomplish what we wish, we are usually the reason.

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10 comments

Kristy says:

Absolutely True!!! I love reading your Musings and Rabbi’s Thought Tools each week! We have your complete library and our phones buzz each weekday morning at 10:30 am to remind us to tune in to Ancient Jewish Wisdom on TCT! Thanks for all y’all do! I hope you are in our neck of the woods again soon! (Dallas or Green Bay)
P.S. Where did you move too?

We would love to meet you when we are back in Dallas. No immediate plans, but it is one of our favorite cities. We moved to Baltimore – somewhere we never thought we would be, but the majority of our grandchildren are here. We have actually been very surprised at how much we like it here. The weather is awful but the Jewish community and other things in the area have been much more pleasant than we anticipated. We still love the northwest but people trumped place.

Shannon says:

You poor thing. My mom also is directionally deficient. What I tell her, and those similarly afflicted is find the sun, if it is in front of you your right is west, you left is east. Reverse this in the southern hemisphere. If you are at the north or south pole- well, direction is the least of your worries, follow the sun until you stop seeing icebergs.
Forget using GPS, get a paper local road atlas. Try to visualize where you are, and hold the map in the correct direction you are facing- the finding the sun trick helps. Before you know it, you will forget you even had any directional issues!

“Directionally deficient” – I love that! I did do better when we lived near the ocean in CA or in the NW on an Island because I could follow the sun and if I went too far in one direction, I hit the water. But, here the streets zigzag and change names a lot. The beltway is in a circle. Knowing E,W,N,S doesn’t even help very much.

Peter B. says:

Hey Susan:
Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. I moved from Boston to Baltimore in July 1990. It didn’t take me too long to realize I hadn’t left the Northeast Corridor. Not only that, Baltimore in summer is one HOT part of the corridor, especially as compared to Boston. Still I had a fantastic time for the four years that I lived there. D.C. right next door has so many amazing things to experience. And my native-of-Baltimore neighbors (I want to be carefull with the spelling of the “official” name for them) are some of the sweetest folks I’ve ever met.
But I also need to put in a plug for our home here in Charlotte. All you need to do is describe the beautiful vistas of the Shenandoah Valley, Skyline Drive, and the Blue Ridge Parkway to the Rabbi and he’ll be sure to be firing up that V-12 BMW for an 8 hour road trip southbound. Just in case you do choose to make the drive, please remind him that radar detectors are illegal in the state of Virgina, and the State Troopers there are the toughest on the east coast, adhering VERY stickly to the over-the-speed-limit rule of “eight you’re great, nine you’re mine”.
By the way, a little English language ‘trivia’ for both Kristy and you: did you know that the southern English expression “y’all” is actually a contraction of the King James Bible expression “Ye all”? It is a fact. It’s no surprise that y’all is no longer common vernacular in America with the exception of the so called Bible Belt, in which a good many of we happy readers proudly reside.

James says:

Lev Tolstoy had a prophetic dream at the end of his life, how the nations abandoned all traditional values to chase the richly bedizened whore of commercialism. The publishing industry seems to have wandered down some obscure alley in pursuit of the same commercialist quest. In their defense, one could also say that the number of people actually still able to read is likely diminished, and the character of books they read has become severely truncated. The age of Twitter and Wifi, etc., has also reduced our effective attention span. In any case, people do not read in the numbers they used to, and their reading material, leastways what SELLS, is limited.
So the publishers have become clannish, restrictive and selective in pursuit of the bottom line. Manuscripts perceived as unorthodox, unusual or off the beaten track get refused. For this reason so many authors are opting out of traditional publishing in favor of what was called samizdat in the old Soviet Union: self-publishing. Houses such as Lulu and CreateSpace are becoming very popular for ‘eccentric’ authors.
Susan, I would read your book at a heartbeat. I would purchase it.
And I look forward to the next occasion when the Rabbi’s entire collection is on sale.
Wishing you brave maritime excursions on the Chesapeake Bay!

Ah, James. But the tricky part is writing the book you would read 🙂

We do love visiting Charlotte. It is beautiful. Good-to-know information on both the speed limit in VA and the etymology of y’all.

Crystol says:

I knew we shared something special in common! Can we start a geographically challenged support group via Skype so we don’t have to go anywhere? 😉

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