Friday, March 23, 2018

Route and destination

Yesterday I had the experience that any reader who regularly drove to the same work place for years has had.  I pulled into the lot, parked the car, and realized that I could not recall how I got there.

I knew of course that I'd left the house, but after leaving Auburndale, a spot on my route, I had only a fuzzy recollection of making the left on Moody, then right on whatever the name of that road is that I have made a right on for twenty years, made the next right, made the right at the Ribs place that I have to go back to, made a left onto the ramp to the Pike, got on the Pike, got off the Pike, swung around Copley passing the Cheesecake factory, made the left on Mass Ave, waited at the sometimes interminable light, dodged the bicyclists who are forever thinking that there is a bonafide lane when there is not, made the right on Columbus, and pulled into the garage where the attendant squinted her eyes to make sure I had a parking decal.  Couldn't remember much of anything after Auburndale.

I sat there for a moment and wondered how I could have gotten to this spot without remembering anything about the drive.  It was as if I was two individuals.  One: the conscious person who was thinking about my classes, a writing project, whether it is worth it to keep paying for satellite radio, the condo in Florida, the snow that was predicted and did not come, the parents of school aged kids who must be livid that they cancelled snow on the basis of a forecast of snow when there was not a flake on the ground. Two: the autopilot me who made all the correct turns without registering them.

There I was in the parking garage and could not remember much of anything about how I got here.

And then the metaphor surfaced.

How did I get here? How did we get wherever we are?  How conscious have I been of the turns in the road when I have taken them such that I wound up where I am. I would imagine for people with children and particularly large families this sensation is even more pronounced.  What with taking kids to soccer games, planning for overnights, getting ready for holidays, deciding who is going to pick up the dry cleaning and who is responsible for remembering that we need paper towels--a day can be packed with so many chores that twenty years of such days later you find yourself somewhere and ask how the hell that happened.

But you don't need to have multiple tasks to find yourself in a spot and say whoa, how did this happen?  There is a scene in About Schmidt with Jack Nicholson, where he wakes up and asks himself how did he wind up in this bed, in this city, sleeping with this old person on the other side of the bed (and his wife when she awakens probably thought the same thing).  The healthiest among us are those who are aware of our routes and desired destinations.  But it is inevitable that even the most self actualized of us will have an awakening periodically and ask with some discomfort, "how did I get here?"

No comments:

Post a Comment