No matter where I travel, people ask me for directions.
I have never been sure if it is because I don’t look lost, or because I don’t look scary. Whatever the reason, people ask, and I usually can tell them. Either I know, or somewhere in the oversized bag I’m carrying, is a map, and I love to pull it out and get it oriented and set the stranger on course. Often in the process, I have learned about places that I would like to visit, and even sometimes found a travel companion.
It has occurred to me lately that this is one of the micro-interactions that is going extinct as our hand-held devices and talking cars tell us where to go. I know I can tend towards nostalgia, and I freely confess I love having google maps at my fingertips, but I can’t help feeling sad about losing the connections that are made when you ask someone for directions. I once used old Berlitz phrase books as part of a theater script, and one of the great finds was that the phrase, “I’m lost, can you show me the way to….” was listed in the “dating” section, right next to “I believe you dropped this.”
I love the different ways that people give directions. I spent a rainy night lost in Ireland, and every time I asked someone for the way, I got a story. “Well, follow this road ‘til you’re past McNerney’s farm, then turn right, just before you get to the bridge that washed out last year. Then don’t follow the signs, because some kids turned them around as a joke…” My companion and I stopped many times that night. We were exhausted by laughter by the time we checked in to our inn, and we knew much more about where we were than if we had been sure of our way.
I think that the first map that I became familiar with was the Hundred Acre Wood. I would pore over it, on the front piece of my volume of Winnie-the-Pooh. It showed me the relation of one story to another, and gave an extra level of credibility and tangibility to Pooh’s stomping grounds. Much like my experience with Irish directions, the Hundred Acre Wood is mapped by experiences. This is where Roo plays. This is where Eyore mopes. This is what lies between.
I’m going to use this blog to map my experiences, and try to figure out what connects and separates the different lands where I play and mope and think and create and connect. I’ll map the terrain, the inhabitants, the climates and the boundaries. I’m not sure exactly what form it will take, but I expect the expedition to be colorful!