A long time ago, in a world that seems very far away now,
once I was a map librarian. Maps tell us where we've been, where we're going, where it's possible to go, and at least point us in the right direction of how to get from here to there. Within each map there is a multitude of stories - the ultimate choose your own adventure. Besides being guides, they are also often beautiful to look at with their contours of the land, the winding roads, the grids of streets... They are found in glove compartments, on phones, in boats (and it's possible in a few goats), in books, suitcases, and planes... and apparently in chimneys as well.
This week a story came across of a 17th century map found stuffed in a Scottish chimney and restored by the National Library of Scotland. The video in the article is well worth watching, if only to witness the painstaking delicate care that goes into a restoration like this. It is amazing, with tweezers, mysterious liquids, microscopes, and the gentlest, most patient love as it all comes back together. I've often wondered if I should have gone into archiving.... and then I realize, I don't think I'm patient enough to do so!
Watching this map come back together reminds me that it's almost time for our annual puzzle. Every year under our tree, the New Year leaves us a gift to start on New Year's Eve - a puzzle. Maybe this year we'll find a map puzzle left for us to work on. Or maybe it will be something else. Puzzles are very soothing for my brain. Something about the intermittent reward of finding a piece that fits, and the process of putting things in their place, of making order out of chaos. It's possibly part of the wiring, given where I landed professionally! Information and stories are puzzles in and of themselves as well, a key character fits here, a little piece of information fits there, and together they open up a whole new part of the puzzle that wasn't available before.
Maps, even ones that haven't fallen apart, are a type of puzzle. A master skeleton key that leaves the decisions to you, the reader, to make a decision about. They are all about opening up possibilities.
When you look at the maps and puzzles in front of you, what possibilities and opportunities do you see?
With love and curiosity,