Maps have always fascinated me.
When I first studied maps and globes in a unit on the explorers in elementary school, I traced the route of Henry Hudson as he attempted to find a northwest passage to the exotic land of China. We children already knew that the land of Marco Polo could be reached if we could only dig and dig and dig a hole just a little deeper. Around the same time, I traced the journey of Laura Ingalls and her pioneer family while reading The Little House books.
A few years later, I imagined the Yorkshire moors as depicted by Charlotte Bronte and her sister Emily. My inspiration continued to be rooted in a book, yet my visualization of the setting was enhanced by a topographic map. As I read Charlotte Bronte’s words, I once again journeyed to another time and sometimes another land.
"My sister Emily loved the moors. Flowers brighter than the rose bloomed in the blackest of the heath for her ; out of a sullen hollow in a livid hill-side her mind could make an Eden. She found in the bleak solitude many and dear delights ; and not the least and best loved was liberty."
Is it the freedom to select “the [road] less traveled by”, explore the unknown, follow your hero’s journey, or perhaps an intangible yearning that draws you forward? For me, my life’s journey always begins with a story. Whether it is history, world literature, or words heard in passing, I have the desire to preserve the moment and begin to annotate, research, plot the points on a map and take the first step towards an unrealized and occasionally realized journey. Although I do not always physically arrive at a new location, my unrealized journeys are accompanied by the thrill of exploring a new territory. That yearning never wanes.
I hear the words…
“Tell me, O muse, of that ingenious hero who travelled far and wide”
and I begin again…
- Who is your muse?
- What inspires you?
- How do you explore?
- What do maps mean to you?
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