Tuesday, 19 March 2013
To Buy a Map is to Promise
When one buys a map, they make a promise to them self, ‘I will leave, one day.’ Their awareness of this promise will vary, but it is there nonetheless. They buy the map because they are intrigued with the world, in adventure, in knowing. How exhilarating to think, how truly exciting. But let me tell you this, to think does not even touch the surface. Dig to feel what is really out there, and dive to experience sensations that are unimaginable from your well-cushioned sofa. For water molecules that cohere without disturbance are a promise broken.
I bought a map of Europe from Stanfords and put it on my bedroom wall. A line of coloured ball-head map pins stud out our intended route. I always find it satisfying to analyse a pending walk, but this one was a little bit different, not only in length, but it was also the first time I had used map pins; it was worth the wait. Colour coordinated, depending on the country in which they were inserted, the pins stand about two centimeters apart - that, in converted terms, is about 40kms.
Without a thought, I find myself running my finger along the pins whenever I pass, each popping as my index parts with the plastic ball. I wake in the morning and roll over, the outlines of each nation imperceptible and unremarkable, the way it should be. Some mornings the distance appears small and others it seems daunting, evoking anxiety. Nicholas Crane walked more than three times this, as he traipsed the 10,000 km mountain chain that runs from the Atlantic to the Black Sea. George Meagan walked nine times our proposed distance, claiming the record for the longest walk ever completed, as he trekked over 30,000 km from the southernmost tip of South America to the northernmost tip of Alaska. Meagan began his expedition in 1977 and did not reach Prudhoe, Alaska until 1983. When acknowledging the achievements of intrepid footers like Crane and Meagan, our walk to the Mediterranean suddenly seems more manageable. Well, there is no backing out now at any rate, I have bought the map.