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I was moving books around looking for something and this one book showed up that I had not seen for years. It is entitled: STAYING FOUND. It’s a book on orienteering. With a compass and map there is a method – no longer being taught much since the advent of the GPS (Global Positioning System) – whereby one can navigate the remotest wilderness and get where he or she wants to get without getting lost. It’s a learned skill that is quite involved and satisfying. You could say that a period of instruction and practice were necessary for successful orienteering, whereas any kid with a Game Boy could make a GPS sing in moments.

For some strange reason, this lifted a rock in my mind to reveal a bunch of wormy thoughts lying there waiting for light and air, mostly having to do with the margin between technologies when there is an overlap. Where both the old and the new seem to have some usefulness but usually not at the same time and place.

There are all kinds of illustrations of this in fiction and fact. I am particularly fond of that scene in one of those Indiana Jones films where Jones, disguised as Harrison Ford. is confronted with a saber wielding would-be assassin in the street. This guy goes into some pre-assination saber brandishing ritual intended, it seemed, to terrify the be-jesus out of an intended victim. Jones, with a boyish look of disgusted puzzlement, reminiscent of a blossoming Hans Solo, whips out his foot long pistol and blows this guy right into paradise. Sabers and arms akimbo. An obvious overlap of technologies.

The other night in one of my waking dream periods where I was seeking sleep and instead was conjuring up page after page of ridiculous reconstructed history for my entertainment, I began to wonder what would have been the result of some future time traveler getting bumped by a Civil War horse and dropping his Uzi and ten clips of ammo on one or the other camps and what that soldier might have done ( had he been able to figure out how to work the thing ) to change the course of history. One man using such technology against thousands with muzzle loaders and sabers? Someone would have picked him off sooner or later but he could have cut down a few in what would have been an historically astonishing moment at Bull Run or Manassas. Pistol vs. saber. For the time it took to empty those 10 clips the fight would seem unfair, then it would all revert to it’s normal bloody equality.
Thankfully I soon dropped off into soundless sleep with not a shot to be heard.

Well it’s hunting season here in Maine. I’ll wager there is not a single spear chunking hunter in the woods. Not even a saber. It’s a guns and ammo sport. Quick, efficient and little chance of getting hurt in some close combat situation with Bambi. Of course armed and dangerous co-hunters are another problem at times. It’s a high risk world out there. But whoever they are they will all find their cars with the aid of the ubiquitous GPS device.

It’s a new day. Distant family were visiting nearby a while ago from Connecticut and were coming by for dinner. They had never been here. On the phone we started to give then turn by turn directions envisioning a road map spread out and marker pen at the ready being still locked into a map and compass mentality, when he interrupted and said all he needed was an address. His GPS would find us. It did, of course. The pistol and the saber all over again.

Now I have to go to the market. I’ll key in the address on my iPhone just in case I forget. I can follow my progress on Google Maps.

Wait a minute – do I turn east or west to get there? Where’d I put that compass?

Be well, and stay found.

I’m Jerry Henderson

1 Comment

  1. Interesting thoughts. D’s ROTC has an orienteering team which participate in competitions throughout the year. One minute I can envision them pulling their phones from their pockets to text and the next minute using the tools for orienteering (which I have to assume would include a compass). And by the way- love that humor found in the Indiana movies – looking at Harrison Ford doesn’t hurt either. Stay well- keep writing!Michelle

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