There was a time–even as a young adult–I didn’t “get” the appeal of maps that my grad-school chums seemed to find so immersive. Now I wish some adult had set me down a decade earlier with the folded map to Daytona Beach on our summer way down and made me make sense of how to know where on Earth I was.
“Getting properly oriented” is a metaphor that has all kinds of applications in my thinking and writing about relationships to nature, place and community. And so there is a sense in which knowing our place on the paper map of our at-the-moment HERE is the beginning of knowing who we are in the at-the-moment WHERE, from which our hub of connection builds.
That being said, to the extent that we lose the connection to true north, literally or figuratively, we become disoriented and lost, unable to make sense of the world. When we take our eyes off the territory and map altogether, and begin trusting the Robot Voice Lady to give us our bearings, something important is lost.
So I agree with the points made by Curtis Silver at NextWeb in his piece–that reliance on digital maps (and other binary substitutes for our own skin and sight and smell and reason) can lead us mentally astray.
Next time you are going some place with kids, even across the park to get ice cream, think about helping them orient to landmarks, to the sun, to the slant of shadows on the grass, to the sound of wind, or create a paper map for them by which to orient to the real world–which after all is the one that will feed them and bear them up and away and into what hopefully is a sanely-oriented adulthood.
It was just recently I remembered that what made me an early, long-ago committed blogger was being identified by others, who were at the time strangers, as a “blogger of place.” Somehow, the WHERE of my life had risen above my identify with my profession as the thing that could say most about who I am.
“If you don’t know where you are, you cant fully say who you are.”
Here are a few map-and-place posts from past years, and a link from one of those posts–mostly as read crumbs for me to come back to. Nibble if you care to.