Today, I read an article about a new app that can be used at the Natural History Museum in New York City. Among other things, while in the museum, this app helps to find the closest bathroom or the most direct route to the T-rex, the whale or anything you’re looking for.
The Natural History Museum holds a special place in my heart. When my kids were very young, we would winter in the Natural History Museum (in the same way some people weekend in the Hamptons). New Yorkers with young children know, the only days you don’t leave your apartment are when someone has the stomach flu. It doesn’t matter how cold it is outside, you need to get out of your apartment. When the temps dipped below freezing, we’d spend the day in the Natural History Museum. We definitely had our favorite rooms, but it was part of the adventure to explore the vast museum. To find new treasures every visit. Personally, one of my favorite things was getting lost there and trying to find our way.
This new app got me thinking about navs in general. If everyone were to use navigation devices, is there any hope of ever getting lost again? Some of my most cherished finds have been the result of being lost. I lived for five years in Larchmont, NY, a town I discovered when I took the wrong exit off the Connecticut Turnpike and drove south through the small towns along Westchester’s eastern coast.
Or, recently, when I accidentally found da Tommy Osteria in the West Village. I had a wonderful meal there. That wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t roam the cobblestone streets looking for a restaurant Yelp recommended that I ultimately couldn’t find.
When I was in my twenties, I showed up at the wrong employment agency in midtown Manhattan (many of them were located on the same floor of the same building) which lead to a long and wonderful career at Estee Lauder.
If we foolproof our life against mistakes, what will happen to serendipity? The more advanced technology becomes, the more we are “protected” against making mistakes. Yet mistakes are an essential part of learning and creating, inventing and discovering. And most importantly, discoveries. Sometimes I feel that advances in technology usurp my need for thinking or reasoning. When all I need to do is ask Google Maps, Siri or Jeeves, missteps will be limited for sure. But so will happy accidents.
Hopefully, someday there’ll be an app for that.