There is a lot to be said for a good map. This is true, on so many levels. A good for-instance, is when you are trying to find your way to Big Bob’s Bobbin Barn, in Boise. Pinpointing the exact location, is highly important, especially on a bobbin deadline.
Today, we are fortunate enough to have an extension of our hand, in the form of a Smart Phone. Yes, those smarty-pants cell phones come with all sorts of whips-and-digits these days. A map, with exact driving locations, turns, heavy traffic, and distance, is right there before your very eyes. This, I can tell you, is a luxury of modern times.
There were the days, when you would have to have a membership to AAA to get a handy-dandy map. Oh sure, anyone could go to a gas station, and purchase a map. And way back, you could go to a bookstore, if your really planned ahead. But at AAA, there was always a nice lady, with bright red lipstick and an yellow highlighter.
You would walk into the AAA office, with your Mom and Dad, and tell her you were going to the amazing and wonderful ball of twine, located in Cawker City, Kansas. She would excuse herself, stroll back to the gun-metal filing cabinets behind her, and run her index finger up and down the drawers. Like she needed her finger to read the labels on the fronts of the cabinets. There was no braille there. She was full-sighted. But she could never look up the map without the finger-dusting.
Finally, she’d pull out a couple of maps. These things were like crazy. They had a big map in the front, which unfolded wide and large. But then there was the skinny vertical accordion… which unfurled. A series of maps connecting your route to be. She would highlight the roads, from one map to the next. It was a masterpiece.
And with 7 kids in a hot station wagon, you needed a masterpiece for a map. But I have gone in many directions here, no pun intended.
The kind of map I had in mind when I started this mess… was the very large variety, which hangs on a wall.
When we were kids, there were maps on our long wall, in our kitchen. There was always a world map, with the “globe” sliced and laid flat. But in addition to the world map, we would have others too. An Ohio map, or the United States. Sometimes there were county maps. On occasion, there was some sort of magazine article, about science or geography, or some such.
I would spend long periods of time staring at those maps. They made me wonder. I would think about all the different places, and guess what they might be like. I had many questions about the people there, and I would speculate about what their lives might be like. Many times, in many ways.
I stood there, thinking… “I wonder if there is a kid, just like me, in Naples, Italy … looking at a map on a wall right now.”
There is so much I could say about all the time I have spent considering maps. Of all varieties.
But I think the reason I liked them so, is because they are filled with both the unknown… and directions to get there. They gave me cause to let my mind roam… … ha…. to the very corners of the mysterious and magical earth. From the frozen wastelands of Siberia, to the spice markets of India. The rolling hills of Bavaria, to the ruins in Peru. And at each, and every turn, I would think about the people there. What life was like, there. On the other side of the world.
I still wonder those things. Every day. About the reaches of our globe, and all the people we share it with.
“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
― André Gide
“In wisdom gathered over time I have found that every experience is a form of exploration.”
― Ansel Adams