Anton McConville
Digital Designer & Developer
Where Am I

An episode of ‘The Nature of Things’ titled ‘Where Am I?’ was on TV while I was making supper a couple of nights ago. It was all about navigating, finding a way. It really inspired me.

I am not good at navigating or giving directions to others. I know that even writing that reinforces it within me, but I am surviving, and counting my many other blessings! You might think that since I have lived and worked in three countries, and spent lots of time in cities like New York, San Francisco, that finding my way must not be a problem. It is always a source of anxiety for me.

I’m not good at visualizing where I am on a map. So Google Maps is a godsend for me. The feature on my watch that taps my wrist to direct me when I’m walking is a gift. Eventually I can navigate from memory of landmarks. I should say though, that while finding my way makes me anxious, I have no fear of visiting somewhere new, and meandering off the beaten path has provided many a welcome experience.

A big stressor in my life is arriving at places on time. I have to work incredibly hard to do that. I struggle with very strict time keepers, who don’t forgive. I once knew a person who not only objected to my arriving late, but also made me wait if I arrived early. I freely admit that I’ve had counseling to help with time keeping, and the reactions of those I disappoint.

Much of my timekeeping problem lies in just not being able to navigate well. I keep trying to improve, but I’ve come to accept that it is a limitation of my thinking. I am blessed with being able to think very laterally, I believe it a strength. Linear thinking is not my natural way. That said, I’ve vastly improved on timekeeping in recent years, where I can control it for work, or responsibility. I manage a team at IBM, and feel privileged to do so.

I had intended this post to be about a few observations from the Nature of Things episode related to navigation. They talked about approaches to navigation in the arctic that felt natural, harmonious and beautiful. They even had names that sound almost poetic. I really love this idea of natural direction.

Inuit travel in a landscape that looks unchanging in all directions. White land, white sky. There is often not enough night sky to navigate by the stars. These days increasingly they rely on GPS, and snow mobiles to move from A to B. But in the past, it was dogs and sleighs that transported them. In the show they revealed that husky packs always knew the way home, they just had to be asked. I think that’s beautiful. Inuit hunters could tell direction by the drifts of snow on the ground, and by how hard the ice was beneath them. The North wind leaves a guideline in the snow that most of us wouldn’t notice, but that the first nations are confident in.

In the show they talked about Water Sky that can guide an observant traveler to water in the North. And Iceblink which can indicate ice fields ahead.

Water Sky, Iceblink, and wind lines - I love these clues that nature provides, if we are observant. I’m going to try to tune better into my own environmental directions :)