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July 24, 2017

11:51 AM

So close, yet so far away and so disoriented

Francisco Miraval

I was invited to a wedding in an area of rural Colorado I never visited before. The invitation provided the address, but no directions were given to get that place. Obviously, I looked up for the directions in a well-known online map. And that’s when the problems began.

It turns out that, according to the online map, it was not difficult to get there. I just needed to follow one road until the end of that road, then turn right and then right again at the second street. “No way to get lost”, I said to myself. I was wrong, very wrong.

First, the so-called “road” was just an unpaved country road with almost no signs. And, in spite of what the map said, the road didn’t end. Second, the was no “second street”.

In addition, there was no phone coverage and, therefore, no way to call anybody to ask for directions. In fact, there was nobody to ask anything. It was just a field next to another field, with plenty of cows, but not people.

I decided then to turn around and go to a nearby town. There, at a gas station, I asked for the directions to the place I wanted to go. Nobody knew the place. I told them I was going to a wedding and a person said in that small-town weddings are so infrequent that it was easy to find the wedding I was looking for. He gave directions and five minutes later I was at the wedding. The wrong one, I mean.

I learned later that on that particular day something happened at that town that never happened before: there were two weddings, one in the north part of the town, and one in the south. People didn’t know about the second one, the one I was trying to find.

Finally, somebody suggested I should follow a certain street and keep going south until finding the wedding. The man also said he wasn’t sure if that strategy will take me to the wedding, but, he said, that was the only advice he could provide at that time.

I followed his advice, assuming that, in the worst-case scenario, I would turn around and go home enjoying the view of Colorado’s prairies. However, the strategy did work. Almost unexpectedly, we found the wedding, but neither at the place indicated on the map, nor at the distance indicated according to the address provided.

In fact, I discovered that before turning around I was very close to the place of the wedding, but, because I decided to follow the map’s instructions, I was never close enough to see the entrance. By the way, we arrived on time to enjoy both the ceremony and then the reception.

I learned a few things from that experience. For example, I shouldn’t blindly trust online information. But the biggest take-away was sometimes we are really close to our destination, yet, however we close we are, we can still get lost and disoriented. 

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