Navigating Your Legacy
"We are not human beings on a spiritual journey. We are spiritual beings on a human journey."
- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
I remember taking family trips as a child. We would all pile into the car and head off. When needed, Dad would have the old, reliable map in hand (or at least in the glove compartment). If the journey was long enough, my parents would identify a hotel to stay at overnight before continuing the journey. It was inevitable that somewhere along the way we would miss a turn. My dad would argue, "It was the map's fault!" This ultimately led to us reluctantly pulling into a gasoline station, miles off course, to ask for directions back to where we were intending to go.
Today, as I prepare for a family trip with my own children, I take out my smartphone, tap on the global positioning system (GPS) icon, enter my destination, and in seconds I have a detailed course to follow. Not only this, there is a voice telling me ahead of time when to take lefts and rights: "Be prepared to turn in one mile." And if this weren't enough, my GPS app will factor in what can never be known ahead of time when using a paper map: new roads and traffic patterns.
Similarly, when you have to chart a course in your life, such as the course of personal happiness or effectively transferring wealth to your children, you have a choice regarding the technology you will turn to. Will you select the decision-making equivalent of a paper map or of a GPS? Both technologies serve the same purpose: to help you travel from point A to point B. But one is more efficient at getting you the results you want.
Paper roadmaps can help us in our travels, especially those we take by land. But they are one-dimensional in nature and do not actually tell us which roads to travel. If our map is dated and not reflective of a new highway or street, it may send us in the wrong direction, so we never arrive at the destination unless we find another source of information. Despite their limitations, paper maps do provide a tangible benefit in addition to information: They give us a sense of security. We can hold them in our hands and they have been our guides for centuries.
The GPS is clearly a step up in technology from the paper map. It brings the paper map to life and adds multiple dimensions of value. But it does require faith, at least initially, to allow a voice you don't know to tell you which way to go and to trust a route you cannot see (unlike a paper map). I must confess, there has been an occasion or two when I didn't trust the voice and followed what I thought was a better path, thus quickly learning that I should have listened.
GPS technology takes the travel experience to a whole new level. After selecting your intended destination, a course is charted for you, a colorful linear map or topographical map appears on your screen (you get to choose the view you like best), and a voice begins to guide your navigation ("Turn left in 450 feet," "Stay on this road for twenty-one miles," and "You have reached your destination"). It also tells you what time you can expect to arrive at your destination. Not only does the system help you get from point A to point B, it has other, special features, like finding nearby points of interest, gas stations, and hospitals at the touch of a finger.
Having said this, GPS isn't a perfect technology yet, and within the technology there are various levels of effectiveness. I am reminded of a trip I took through Washington, D.C., on my way to Virginia. My DVD-based navigation system had worked wonderfully for much of the journey, only failing me when I arrived at a part of the highway that was undergoing significant construction. (The government was installing a train system from the heart of the