A bit more off the map: leaving signs along the way
Posted by J Russell
After yesterday’s post I did a bit more thinking, which went a bit like this.
If I know that being off the map is going to make me feel a certain way, then that makes it easier for future episodes, ah this feeling again, I know you… Then rather than anxiously search for signs that I have found my way back to civilisation as quickly as possible I can leave my own signs; little landmarks that say I was here too.
It will be like Hansel & Gretel scattering breadcrumbs, only I will be casting them before me, not behind me. It still leaves a trail, but one that aims to show where I am going, not where I have been. Of course there is no material difference in the trail, whether the crumbs are thrown forward or behind me, it is the intention of it that matters to me.
It seems, that for now, these stand in for a handful of breadcrumbs.
And like adding a rock to a cairn at the top of a mountain summit, or leaving a pebble to mark the way, the trail of words others have already left helps me to recognise fellow travellers along the way. Suddenly, off the map feels much better in my head.
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote a poem titled with, as I suspected, a German word that attempts to categorise those feelings I have struggled with called Waldeinsamkeit; the nearest translation is to do with being in the solitude, or of being lost, in the woods. And, in a moment of serendipity, last night I finished a biography of Mary Wollstonecraft; on the last page it quoted her writing thus
I am not born to tread in the beaten track, the peculiar bent of my nature pushes me on.
Wherever I go, on or off the map, it is certain that someone, somewhere, sometime… has been there before.
Even in my head.