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Let's be surprised – don't put so much faith in personal technology

It is the blind and roundabout route that often gives life its richness.

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Have you noticed? People rarely ask for directions anymore.

I'm at a red light this morning and a guy in the lane to my left toots his horn to get my attention. "Where's the turnpike?" he shouts. I tell him to make a right and follow me to the offramp, a couple of yards out of my way.

As I scoot back across traffic, I happen upon a car with a Kalamazoo sticker in its window. The driver (I can't believe it!) is a former schoolmate. It turns out that she's attending a seminar at the university where I work. I invite her along a lesser-known, circuitous route to the lecture hall and we inadvertently save a couple minutes travel time. We spend them laughing in the parking lot.

I park far from my habitual spot and head across campus to my office. On the way, I stumble upon a cluster of daylilies – undocumented on our botanical map and rumored to be brought here by Rockefeller. I stop to savor the flower and spot a Palm Pilot abandoned in the dirt.

My point is this: If we're all born for a purpose, then our faith in technological omnipotence might mean we'll miss it.

Suppose the guy in the left lane had consulted MapQuest or had Magellan appended to his dash. I'd have missed that unexpected encounter which led to an unforeseen reunion which led to the extraordinary discovery of a cloistered flora which resulted in the heroic recovery of someone's treasured digital assistant.


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