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Navigation for life

Katie Palmitier | Wednesday, November 8, 2006

We have all seen one, want one, or have one. GPS vehicle navigation systems seem to be the hottest new car accessory, and I cannot help but become obsessed with them myself. Who could not possibly desire to have a pleasant, comforting voice telling you when and where to turn, what to do if you’ve made a mistake, and where to go when help is needed? The rear view camera is also a hot commodity; a camera showing the driver exactly how far he or she can reverse so a nearby object is not destroyed. And most recently, Lexus released a luxury vehicle that parks itself. Thanks to technology, driving is now virtually effortless. No more accidents, no more getting lost, and no more wrong turns.

Unfortunately, technology has yet to create a navigation system for life. This much-needed invention could be the answer to all of life’s questions and the solution to everyday problems. There have been times when I could have used a rear view camera so I would not have crossed over the yellow line in an argument with a friend or family member, and times when I needed the “park assist” gadget to take a midterm exam for me. And I am in dire need of a navigation system right now to tell me what classes to take and when to take them, as well as to put me on the right path to my dream job with no wrong turns or obnoxious co-workers standing in my way.

Not only would a navigation system be beneficial to my career and academic success, but my social life as well. I could use a pleasant, comforting voice to tell me which boys to date, what group of friends is right for me, and when to make a U-turn when I walk out of my room wearing Uggs and a mini-skirt. Heartbreak could be avoided, friends would last forever, and fashion faux pas would no longer exist.

Although this type of system could be the vehicle to lead us down the carefree road to happiness, it is a mere figment of my imagination. However, the resources and tools are available in our everyday lives to form our own personal, non-technological, navigation systems.

Family can act as our rear view camera. They know what we want to do and will do everything in their power to help us get to our final destination safely. Family can set off the warning tones when they feel one of their own is becoming dangerously close to some bad choices. Their voices of reason are quietly subtle at first, beep…beep… beep, but soon increase to the strong BEEP BEEP BEEP to let you know you could be making a huge life-altering mistake.

Friends are our real life version of the “park assist” Lexus. While we are in control of our own lives, our friends are the ones that travel right along with us. Giving advice, helping with homework, and enjoying time together make us feel as though we are not on this journey alone.

Faith acts as our GPS navigation system. When it comes down to it, the direction of our lives is placed in hands other than our own. A strong faith in any religion can provide guidance, security, and comfort as we make decisions or face defeat. While mistakes and wrong turns will be made, lessons will be learned and our faith is there to help us recognize our mistakes and place us back on the right track. Whether it is on the Holy Spirit, a Guardian Angel, or whatever higher power you place your trust, it is comforting to know that there is a guiding force looking out for you and leading you in the right direction.

On the road of life, we are faced with many challenges; challenges that not even a navigation system could overcome. Each wrong turn and every fender bender builds character, strengthens relationships and teaches valuable lessons. The fight with your best friend teaches forgiveness, the break up with your boyfriend or girlfriend gives strength, and the D on your theology paper inspires diligence. These lessons cannot be observed through a rear view camera and cannot be taught by a navigation system. Only real life experience, support from loved ones, and faith can lead you confidently down the road of life.

Katie Palmitier is a sophomore political science major. She can be contacted at kpalmiti@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not

necessarily those of The Observer.