My sense of direction is practically non-existent.  For instance, there is a family from our church that I’ve known for more than twenty years.  Can I find my way to their house?  No. About three years ago I had come close to learning how to get to their home—but then they moved to a much nicer house on the other side of town. So I’m back to having no idea how to get to their place.  

My sense of direction is so poor that my wife does most of the driving: otherwise I’d leave one day never be seen again:  “Oh yes, he went to get some milk at the grocery store.  He’s been gone for six months.  He’ll probably make it home before the end of the year.  It’s his way, you know.”

Once I do learn how to get somewhere—for instance to said grocery store—I will take the same route from then on.  In fact, if I happen to be elsewhere in town and have a need to go to the grocery, then I will drive home first.  Then from my house I can find my way.  I’ve learned only one way to get there.  The phrase “you can’t get there from here” is the story of my lost life.  Lost is a lifestyle.  In fact, most of the time I don’t quite know where I am.

When I go to a store for the first time, I carefully contemplate which aisle I to park in, because from then on, I will park only in that aisle.  How come? So I can find my car when I leave the store. Otherwise I’d have to wait for the store to close and for everyone to leave until mine was the only car left in the lot.  And that doesn’t work if the store is open 24 hours.

But despite the fact that I am mostly unaware of my geographic location, when it comes to finding objects, unearthing lost things—I’m a miracle worker.  Just today, my wife asked me “where’s the Raid—we’ve got a bunch of ants on the back patio.”

“You were the one who used it last,” I pointed out.  “Remember, you found ants on the front porch yesterday and had me get it for you?”

“Um…”

“So where did you put it after that?”

“Didn’t I give it to you?”

“No.”  A pause.  “We’ve got ants.  I need it.”

So I began the hunt for the can of Raid.  It took me less than a minute to locate it.  First, I checked the location where I normally put it.  It wasn’t there.  Then I thought about where my wife was likely to stash a can of bug spray without thinking.  I looked under the kitchen sink.  There it was.

This is a standard pattern in our home. 

My youngest daughter will regularly complain, “I can’t find my iPod.”

I’ll ask about where she was when she last had it. 

“I don’t know!”  And then she’s mad at me. 

So, I’ll begin excavating the black hole she calls her room.  Normally I’ll find the lost item within a minute.  Usually it’s hiding under a plate on her desk, or beneath a pile of shirts and shorts on her floor.

My oldest daughter will wonder where a book might be located.  I’ll snag it in no time.  My wife will wonder where the serving tray that we use once a year at Thanksgiving might be.  I’ll have it on the kitchen counter within two minutes.  My wife can’t find her keys, or can’t locate her shoes? A brief survey of the premises and I’ll have them in no time.

This ability to find things extends to other aspects of my existence.  Someone will wonder where the Bible says something. They’ll give me a look.  I’ll flip through the pages on my iPad. Within thirty seconds I can recite chapter and verse. 

I’ve had friends call me on the phone and ask me “do you know the address of Art’s Deli” or some such place. I’ll type a query into Google and have it for them in less than ten seconds.  Or they’ll wonder about a phrase in Shakespeare or Milton, or be frustrated because they can’t find anything about a particular obscure topic in sociology that they need for their research paper that’s due tomorrow.  Within moments I’ll have what they need.

For whatever reason I seem to be able to find things online that other people can’t.  My wife recently wanted to find a book she only vaguely remembered from her childhood—something about a time traveling teacher.  Based on her fuzzy recollection I located the book in less than five minutes and ordered her a copy from Amazon.  This, after she’d spent more than a year, off and on, unsuccessfully hunting for it.

But I find myself puzzled.  

Why it is that I can snag the most obscure information in a snap, unearth lost keys and iPods, but I can’t I find my children’s school, the grocery store, or even my car in a parking lot?


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