The holidays mean many things to many people. Yet, there are some common themes that we share, especially the time we spend with family and the people we care about the most in our lives.
On some level, I see the holidays as a time for transition and change. Part of it is the preparation for the new year and the anticipation of a fresh start as the calendar turns over with the new sunrise.
In my case, it is the acknowledgement of a change in the way I approach travel and driving.
Just like many of us, I used to chart my course by using a map – whether it was a folded paper one or a big atlas in our vehicle. This habit continued as I began to review vehicles with onboard navigation systems and telematics services that enhance the journey. As many motorists now use electronic methods to map out their drives – from mapping websites to GPS applications on their smart phones – the paper map and its bigger road atlas brother are no longer seen as viable.
This was something I had to resolve on a personal level. I love maps. I loved collecting them – street maps for states, provinces, cities and towns. I always had a road atlas for places I frequent and drive in, such as my hometown of Los Angeles and here in The Cities. In fact, I had a huge love for road atlases thanks to my father, whose line of work required such books to be strewn around the cabin of the car. Even in my short time driving a taxicab, I needed atlases to find my way to my pick up locations and such.
Why did I love maps and atlases so much? Reading them helped me to understand where I was going and to further comprehend the lay of the land – making my life easier in my travels. It also helped by having a strong sense of direction coupled with a keen memory – both of which help me absorb the details from the map.
It's not entirely fool proof. A month ago, I was heading to dinner with a friend of mine and we were both stumped as to the name of the restaurant we were going. Though I had an idea where this place was, I vaguely had a clue on how to actually get there. He went to the GPS mapping application on his smart phone to locate the place and get directions. In the GMC Terrain was I driving, I called OnStar to get mine. It dawned on me, as we were directing ourselves electronically to this restaurant, how much easier life has become by using these apps and telematics services to get there. We saved a call to information, then breaking out a paper map or atlas to figure out how to get there.
This past week, I asked myself whether these additional bits of paper were still relevant and/or vital to my driving or travel routine? It just seems that it is some 21st Century notion to lighten the load of thick atlases and a stack of folded maps when heading to another place on the road.
During this holiday weekend, I went ahead and parted ways with my library of road atlases. They were simply taking up space on my small library shelf. There was no need for them to simply sit, especially if I'm going somewhere and they're taking up space in a bag on a flight or in the car.
There were no hard feelings, second thoughts or sadness attached to this move. It simply had to be done. I feel much lighter now. You can thank the 21st Century for that.