You Are Here

Posted: August 14, 2015 in Uncategorized
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By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty

Maps are endlessly fascinating: as beautiful as a work of art, as instructive as a book, as engaging as deep conversation.

map4Exquisitely illustrated and saturated with information: cardinal directions, space, distance, colors, shapes, patterns, the best maps are like the finest of all literature: clear, concise, and compelling. Last week, I was confidently led arBritannicaound the Lincoln Park Zoo by a 6-year-old wielding a map.

I encountered the first of many maps in the enormous World Atlas that accompanied the Encyclopedia Britannica that still resides in the family room at my mother’s house. A map inspires inquiry, and rewards it endlessly. Constantly encouraged to “look it up,” I remember pulling out the huge book, laying it open on the carpet, gazing at the countries with awe, wondering what the world might be like so far from home.

Maps are succinct, communicating multiple meanings with the artistic economy of poetry. Whoever decided to designate mountains ^^^ : genius.

I occasionally envy early cartographers, imagine encountering places unknown! How remarkable to attempt to plot the world, only to be continually amazed and astounded. The United States seemed navigable until the explorers ran into the Rocky Mountains. Ken Burns’ excellent documentary about The Lewis and Clark Exhibition provides a necessary reminder that romantic notions of earlier generations are misguided. Throughout the voyage, the air was thick with illness and mosquitoes.

Imaginary lands need maps, too. middle earthThe story of The Hobbit was made more real thanks to the map provided inside the front of the book. Online interactive maps explode with possibility, including this incredible Game of Thrones realm.

“You are here” on directional maps is a tremendous reminder of place, space, and self-centeredness.

Maps invite us to locate ourselves precisely where we are, and then decide—where to next? A destination clarifies things, creates direction, proposes a plan. Maps edify and empower.you are here

Locate yourself in space; locate yourself in life.

I am here, in the midst of life, surrounded by possibilities.

A map proposes we can all successfully navigate our world. We just have to know where we are and where we want to go.

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