mapping imaginary places

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I’ve spent many years mapping out my life, without the help of a compass or traditional navigational tools.  Through pictures, drawings and doodles on Pennsylvania diner napkins and dinner place mats I plotted out my future days.  Making lists of places I hoped to go and things I wanted to do, I ordered my scribbles in categories and columns, circling some areas and boxing in others. Then I would connect them with lines, arrows and sometimes numbers – ranking their priority.  On paper these maps would appear to be intangible destinations or imaginary places. In reality my “maps” sometimes led me to specific places  while helping me come closer to the goals I had written down. I believe that seeing my hopes and ideas visually on paper is the first step to making the impossible possible.

Creating these maps is not really about figuring out how to get somewhere or do something. It’s simply how I set my intentions, which for me is the best way to guide me to or through  any new experience. Returning to the drawings or lists solidifies my goals and reminds me of why I embarked on the adventure in the first place.

Rebecca Solnit creates maps in her “Field Guide to Getting Lost” in the form of  written chapters. Here in St. Croix, I am living out my chapters in a more experiential way. I am creating visual maps through photographs and written notes focusing on the intentions I set at the beginning of the year.  Like the scavenger hunt I created for the October chapter writer, I am using hand written notes and a series of photographs to uncover the different treasures of the island.  These photographs and written notes are my personal maps leading my exploration here.  Below are my intentions set for each map created.

  1. To feel at home with the unknown,
  2. To learn and absorb new knowledge in new places
  3. To explore uncharted territory

Map one: Feeling at home in the unknown – This month’s Wild Card Dave Schott asked me to take one photograph everyday that made me feel at home in my new surroundings.  Below are some examples:

Map two: Learning and absorbing new knowledge – By taking notes, making lists, and making marks, I am starting to absorb new knowledge and ideas about the new environment around me.

Map three: Charting new territory: Often I feel as though I am in an imaginary place here. I have to stop, think twice and look again to understand what I am looking at.  The images below map out the places I find myself in that feel more like waking dreams than living out chapters.

1/25/14

Just finding this blog today? Read the prologue for more details on what Living Chapters is all about. Check out the Chapter Summaries Page to get caught up to date.

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