A Word About Maps …

 

As I looked into my bathroom mirror this morning, (and combed what few hairs I have left on my head) … a curious thought came to me:

 

I’m not sure when I discovered it, really.

    How difficult it is to re-fold a map, I mean.

I’ve probably got fifty different maps in my car, or stuck away in junk drawers I never open;

    And none of those maps are folded like they were when I first got them.

 

A map of Washington state.

    (We went there on vacation, once. And the kids picked blackberries alongside the road.

        And we slept in my father-in-law’s van, and the kids got scrubbed in rest stop sinks.)

 

A map of San Francisco’s streets, none of which seem to run parallel to any of the others;

    (And, have you noticed? On maps, the hills don’t show up. Lombard looks crooked as a dog’s hind leg, on my map of San Francisco, alright.

 

But you’d never guess the steepness of that crooked road just by looking at a map, folded or otherwise.)

 

I’ve got maps of Manhattan, and St. Louis, and Washington, D.C. I’ve got maps of entire states,

    (some of which I’ve never even been to; just thought I might like to visit.)

Maps of buildings and museums, too. And all kinds of interesting sights and sites.

    Monticello, and Lincoln’s Salem; The Smithsonian (they need more than one map for that.) 

 

And I’ve got maps of the Hawaiian Islands, too. All of them. The Big Island. And all the smaller islands. I’ve only been to Hawaii a couple of times, but I’m set with maps if I ever go back.

 

But none of my maps are folded like they were when I first got them.

 

Maps are good for showing you where to go, 

    what’s to see, even what’s the best way to get there. 

But they never include directions on how to re-trace the steps of unfolding, so all the panels and creases are in their original position.

 

Maybe that’s why I thought about maps as I combed my hair.

 

Looking into that mirror this morning, I noticed all the wrinkles and creases that have

    crept into my otherwise impeccable visage.

Lines of travel and travail that have unfolded over the years;

    Countless journeys that have left a roadmap of where I’ve been all my life.

Hills I’ve climbed, and valleys I’ve traversed.

    You might not be able to tell how steep those mountains were,

        Nor, perhaps, how deep were those valleys, just by looking at the

            lines in my face, and the wrinkles that compose the roadmap of where I’ve been all my life.

 

No question: I’m in a different place, now, in my life, than I once was.

    A different place now than I have ever been, in fact.

 

    And no matter how hard I work at it, … I won’t ever get to ‘re-fold’ how life has unfolded for me; I’ll never get ‘back’ to where I once was, never look like I once did.

 

No matter, though.

 

The sooner I settle that reality, the sooner I can appreciate life as it is now; life as it unfolds before me.

 

And the suspense of all of that … is truly, the trip of a lifetime.

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