The inferior map maker

Place a hand there, to steady my soul.

I make the progress of a record skipping, for I keep swinging off, into the ether just when the tune becomes distinctive. It’s such a welcoming purple color (the ether). Something inside remains convinced that it would be best to keep starting over again.

Pointless, after awhile, to still believe that these first steps are headed somewhere. I’ll end up right back here, where I begin. But if I should fail a little farther down the road this time, that’s what I’ll be proud of: 

A bigger beginning.

This is the anxiety of a cartographer-slash-perfectionist. His obsessive streak would take all the tang out of any adventure. There would only be working holidays: An eye measuring the distance, the angle of every step, weighted by the responsibility of getting it down right when it can never be right.

Those places mapped and revised a thousand times over would be the only comfort zone- while unchartered territory would arouse the most crippling anxiety.

Such places would reduced him to a wavering old man, questioning every step. Self-conscious with how much he must be ruining the experience for everybody. Querulous, fretful uncertainty.

But how can you trust the body’s memory, when you sit down to draw a straight line?

There were bumps. There were pitfalls, and detours, and that one place, so beautiful where the land dropped away, and the valley stretched out in a vast arc. The world tilted up, there, like a face lifted and then the blood-gold sunset gathered.

And the cartographer? At that very moment he could only betray the experience. He saw, but wasn’t seeing, because he was miserable knowing that he would never sufficiently capture the lay of the land.

All who followed would end up lost, just as he was lost in the realization that it would have been better to stay home, and leave the great discoveries, the heartfelt amazement to better men; men better equipped to receive them.

This map-maker will always be happier on stale, dusty streets; places where he cannot fail anyone.


7 thoughts on “The inferior map maker

  1. My God, you are amazing!
    Who has not been the cartographer, or one following the cartographer, hoping the road would come clearly into view?
    So many repeat the same patterns, walk in circles, remain on the familiar dusty street.

  2. Better to have seen the view, even in its unsettling discovery, than to commit to a life of dusty streets.

    Beautiful writing, Am. You have a lovely way of turning your words into visions.

  3. Thoughts and feeling transformed into something we can see and touch –Nobody does it better. Beautiful writing:

    “The world tilted up, there, like a face lifted and then the blood-gold sunset gathered.”

    Pure poetry.

  4. Columbus was a navigator but not a map maker, so I guess that’s why they named the New World after Amerigo. I don’t think he was a perfectionist, though. He got a few things wrong.

    A joke:

    What does a writer say after sex? Was it as good for me as it was for you?

  5. The cartographer need not worry what others think, for those who appreciate such vistas they are as in awe as the map maker, and for those who don’t share his vision…..well they aren’t really worth the bother.

  6. I think the only accurate map is the artifact of where the mapmaker himself has been. Even the most precise cartographer can’t map the erosions of time and circumstance … nor can he predict the lens through which someone will attempt to follow his landscape.

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