Not all who wander are lost. Except when they are; a condition sometimes deliberately sought and other times a side effect.
After deciding to attend summer school and taking the steps that adventure entailed, I arrived in Cambridge on the night before orientation. While I managed to locate where to pick up my ID card and to buy books for my classes, it felt like I spent the weekend lost; not quite sure where I was, even while referring to the map provided at check-in and asking random passersby. But, in order to get oriented, sometimes you have to be willing to get lost.
Cambridge seems to have been designed by a committee of squirrels; using a planning strategy; “Here’s my acorn cache. Let’s make this a street.” Of course in defense of city planners, the streets were probably less of a problem 300 years ago when people would walk or ride horses. Cars have complicated things. Not only is there the need to consider the bulk and speed of motor vehicles; but when not operating, they have to be stashed somewhere. Most won’t fit on the porch, like a stroller. Parking is at a premium and penalties for violations seem to be the cost of using that mode of transportation; and probably a generous supplement for the city budget.
You can’t get there from here; or so it seems… Many of those random streets have been designated as One Way. While looking both ways on one way streets exemplifies a lack of faith in rational behavior; it seems warranted here. Many drivers drive the wrong way because even GPS devices can’t keep track of the restrictions. So, walkers beware. Pretend you are in England and check both ways before venturing across a street.
Also pedestrians, you can disregard signage indicating you have right of way in crosswalks. Don’t believe the signs; drivers are already ignoring them. The law enforcement budget tilts towards hiring squads of parking enforcement employees. Enforcing moving violations and protecting pedestrians is less lucrative and more complicated.
Knowing you are lost and being willing to ask for directions is not unlike enrolling in school. We realize that others have specialized knowledge that we want to access. Students follow the syllabus and depend on the professors to act as guides at the side; trusting the process and continuing to discover new worlds.
We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. T. S. Eliot
© Joan S Grey, 1 Jul 2016
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