I know that I am not alone in saying that driving through Atlanta, Georgia, USA can be a real pain in the backside. But living two hours away, means that mapping software frequently routes you through Atlanta when traveling. Such was the case in July 2017. As our country prepared for celebrations if independence, my family and I made our way back from Northeast Alabama. Sure enough, the map suggested driving through Atlanta or swinging way to the North and going through Knoxville, Tennessee. Any suggestions offered meant hours of time on major interstate highways.
Since we had avoided Atlanta traffic on the way to Alabama, we knew there were other ways around. Minus having a paper map (remember those), finding the route meant that we had to get around the mapping software’s default response and make it work for us. By plotting a series of shorter destinations, we were rewarded with less traffic and a more scenic and pleasant drive. Except for the fact that our last hour of driving was spent in a heavy downpour, we arrived at the house only a few minutes later than the original ETA shown when the route through Atlanta was suggested.
Because Kate and I have spent our entire married life living away from family, we have spent hundreds of hours on major interstates. I was thinking last night of all the trips we have taken through Atlanta without any awareness of the interesting places we drove through on this trip.
I’m not suggesting driving on major interstates is a moral issue. Mapping software is an excellent tool and it has gotten even better over the years. But the way we often use it is a great example of our tendency to approach life without independent thinking. We are figuratively and literally on auto pilot and following the masses. It is certainly no fault of the mapping software which is only giving the output the masses want. We look at the suggested routes and decide they are the only ones that exist. One is five minutes shorter than the other so we pick that one and mindlessly drive. In so doing we have trained ourselves to believe that the only way to drive to our destination on a long trip is to go from major highway to major highway. We may be sacrificing peace of mind and perhaps our safety, but we will arrive 20 minutes faster.
We employ the same lack of independent thought in other areas of life and our results show it. Again, this is not a statement of self-judgement but rather of self-awareness. It is worth asking ourselves if we apply any independent thought to our approach to education, to our health, wellness and medical choices, the way we bank and handle money, etc..
In his book Becoming Your Own Banker, R. Nelson Nash offers a great explanation for one of the reasons we fail to think independently. – Arrival Syndrome
“Now we turn our attention to probably the most devastating matter we have examined thus far. I call it the ‘Arrival Syndrome’. This phenomenon probably limits the achievements of mankind more than anything else. When this “thing” infects us, we stop growing and stop learning. We ROT! We turn off or tune out the ability to receive inspiration – because we already know all there is to know”
Is there any way in which the Arrival Syndrome describes you, any way you have become too comfortable in habits that are not serving you? Where is that small voice of the independently-minded Fighter still calling out in you and saying,
“I’m still here!”