Notes from the Waxhaws

Here be monsters

with 4 comments

We all carry around models of the world in our heads…representations of reality…or what we perceive to be reality. Geographers call these models mental maps. We build our mental maps up over the years, slowly filling in the details…eventually becoming accurate enough so that we can use them for navigation in our everyday lives. We provide the most detail to those areas that are the most meaningful for us…the neighborhood where we live…the daily route to work…the weekly trip to the grocery store.

In bygone days, when a mapmaker didn’t have sufficient knowledge of a place to accurately depict its nature, he would leave empty spaces, lacunae, and would fill in these spaces with fanciful depictions of sea serpents or dragons…or would simply inscribe something like…”Here be Monsters.” Over the years, our maps have been getting more detailed. There is little of the Earth left that hasn’t been mapped in great detail.

I think the concept of mental maps also applies to the relationships we have with other people. Those who are closest to us…those we love the most dearly…naturally figure prominently in our mental maps. They become the landmarks in the landscape of life through which we navigate on our journeys, as well as our reference points to find the way back home.

Lately, my own mental maps have been changing. Details are fading…like holding a dry, fading, ancient parchment map that is quickly crumbling to dust in my hands. Things aren’t holding together as they once did…the destination is receding into a fog, and the maps are becoming quite useless. I find myself in a strange land, with my most familiar landmark no longer visible.

There’s an old saying…”the map is not the territory”. What we perceive in our minds to be an accurate model of the world, may in fact, be a quite fragile, ephemeral, and even illusory representation of reality. I suppose that, over time, new details will start emerging out of the mist, and a new map will slowly but surely be constructed. But, in the meantime, it’s a bit disconcerting to be in familiar surroundings…but at the same time…feeling completely lost.

Written by Jim

August 25, 2011 at 9:06 pm

Posted in Grieving, Musings

Tagged with

4 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Sadly I know exactly what you mean. Only time will tell what our true territory will be, but who knows it may always be a bit distorted from now on. I’m relieved that I still have some old maps to use as reference, if only to sustain me when the memory fades. Lovely post Jim.


    August 26, 2011 at 1:32 pm

  2. Been feeling a bit down lately…hope it doesn’t show too much. Must be the extreme low pressure system named Irene that’s been passing by much too close to the east :)


    August 27, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    • I think this is a good place to express your highs AND your lows – very healthy & therapeutic. I think Irene has very little to do with it, but what do I know….maybe missing a certain other lady is more like it? I see she sent you a hug or should I say humming bird kisses?


      August 29, 2011 at 1:35 am

      • Of course, you’re right. This does come in cycles…doesn’t it? I’m missing her a lot lately. Just when you think you’ve resigned yourself to the reality of it…it just sinks in once more.

        Hmmm…hummingbird kisses…I’ll think of that from now on whenever one pays a visit…


        August 29, 2011 at 8:36 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: