I’ve always loved to travel. So did Don. As a pilot, he flew to a lot of places – some for just a few hours, it’s true. He’d visited places I’d never been, but I’d seen a few he’d never been to. There are no U.S. Air bases in Rome, after all. Even after we were married, I went to Poland without him (that was for school – it really was). Some of those places we went together, and I posted about that before in “We’ll Always Have Paris.”
I’ve loved maps for as long as I can remember, too. Maps and globes. Perhaps it’s partly theological. I’m a big fan of Martin Buber, who’s all about the I/Thou. He talks about how everything is relational. We can only have I/Thou relationships or I/It relationships, and with God, only I/Thou is possible. But I’m getting off on a small black road here.
If you know about maps, you know that the black roads are smaller. I discovered this the year that I sent us down the black road instead of the red road on the way to visit my mother in the mountains. It was ugly. It involved Don (the pilot, after all) pulling G’s around corners and our then-one-year-old getting car sick. I know the difference now.
Anyway, back to the main road here. I like maps in part because they’re relational. They show how we all fit together. And I’m a bit of a map snob. I don’t like the Mercator projection. That’s the one most people are probably familiar with. It lays everything out with equal distances between the longitudinal lines all the way up and down the map. So Greenland ends up looking enormous, and Antarctica ends up looking like a narrow strip down at the bottom of the map.
Nope, in the absence of a globe, I prefer the projection that looks like a peeled orange. It takes more work, but it’s a better representation.
Travel and maps – they go together. I do like to look at a map and tick off where I’ve been. All 50 states? No, not yet. I’ve been to 34, though. Seven continents? No. Just two. North America and Europe. Still, I’ve traveled a lot more than many people. And I know people from all over the world. And now with the internet, I communicate regularly with people all over the world. THAT is cool.
Anyway, when I started this blog, my friend, The Better Divorcee, suggested that I try WordPress. She’s an experienced blogger, and she thought this would be a good platform for me. OK, I’d give it a try. One of the nice features of WordPress is that there’s a stats page. I can track how many people are reading my posts, which posts they’re reading, and when, and…where you all are from!! (No, don’t worry, not by city, or anything – just by country). It gives me stats by country! And….A MAP!! I love maps!.
So I wasn’t surprised to see that there were a lot of folks from the U.S. But then I saw Hong Kong! Oh, wait, I have a cousin in Hong Kong. Well, that makes sense. My cousin probably read my blog. And then I saw Brazil. Well, right, I have a young friend who’s working in Brazil for a year. But then I started seeing countries light up where I don’t know anyone. Finland. Sweden. South Africa. The Netherlands. Panama. Australia. All over the globe! Well, all over the populated globe. No hits from Antarctica. I’ve hit every continent. Wow. That’s both amazing and humbling.
Once upon a time, it took ten days to get a letter across the U.S. by pony express – and that was fast. Now I push a button, and you can see this all over the world.
There is a power in that. It’s awesome and a bit scary. It’s relational, but it’s not entirely I/Thou. I don’t see you face-to-face. I don’t know who you are.
I know what happens when people get in their cars and, surrounded by a metal box, become removed from direct interaction. We call it road rage. People have killed others over road rage. Gotten into other people’s faces. Called names. Flipped people off. Would we do that face-to-face?
Similar things – worse things sometimes – are happening on the internet. We don’t see people face-to-face. People post all sorts of things to Twitter and online that are just…beyond the pale.
This can be a wonderful tool. I’m thrilled to be reaching so many people all over, I really am. So many of you are in places that I long to visit. I want to know more about your countries and your cultures. This is how we get more relational. This is how we understand our connections. Looking at the maps is only one part of it.
I invite you to leave a comment. Let me, and others, know where you’re from. If you wish, leave a comment about why you’ve read this blog, or what you’d like us to know about your country or your culture. This isn’t going to make us close friends. But it will make us more than strangers. This world is not so big. Let’s get to know each other a little more.
That’s it. That’s my mite.