Ranger Kathryn's Arches

April 1, 2011

Predominantly right-brained

Yesterday my heart was in my throat. Tricia and I were out in the boondocks monitoring nests and she asked me how I would find my way back to the truck without a GPS. I waved in a general southerly direction and said, “It feels as if it is that-a-way, but I don’t recall how we came or over what terrain we traversed.” With a sinking feeling, I realized that “that-a-way” is utterly inadequate. My very poor memory did not register many landmarks on our way in, so trying to remember them in reverse to get out was not going to work too well.

Welcome to my brain.

Tricia wisely had me take the lead and try to work my way the mile and a half (as the raven flies) back to our truck. There are all manner of washes, ridges, seams, ravines, etc., so nothing in the desert is ever in a straight line… like a GPS shows. One also cannot walk in a straight line because of the fragile biological soil crust which must be avoided.

Let’s say that it took a collaborative effort to get us back to the truck, even though I was in front. You may ask anyone who has ever driven or hiked with me: I need explicit directions, always, to anywhere. Navigation is NOT my forte’. Navigation skills happen in the left brain, and I live in my right brain. For a fleeting moment in the backcountry, I asked myself whether my boss had hired the right person for this job; I was THAT stressed out about my lack of skills.

Perhaps this is what it feels like to have a learning disability — “Everybody else can do it, so why can’t I?!?” Has that ever been your experience, in any area?

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