But the truth of the matter is, there are more maps in the world than anyone can count. Every person draws a map that shows themselves at the center.
— By Catherynne M. Valente, The Boy Who Lost Fairyland
I have lots and lots of maps in my head. Maps with shortcuts and scenic routes, in various parts of different countries… Secret beaches with abandoned chapels in the dunes or secret spots where you can park for free in many towns and cities, hidden speed cameras or stunning view points. I have maps for good dog walks, organic shops hidden in the Ashdown Forest or tucked away in obscure parts of London. Maps to get to remote sea side villages in Spain or in India or how to get to the run way of Gatwick airport. Abandoned derelict factories, secret surf spots, ghost towns and disused old skate parks from the 70’s, the best basque cakes in the entire galaxy… It’s all mapped somewhere in my head!
And that’s why I have always refused to have a sat nav. Because I love working out where I am on a map. I love the randomness of finding a new gem, often through the confusing process of getting lost (For me knowledge often arises from confusion).
Despite all my maps, my own head is the one place where I always get lost. Even with a map on my lap – Perhaps the only times I ever secretly wished I had a sat nav !
My 7 year old son has lots of maps in his head too… Last year he drew a map of Neverland as we were immersed in the J.M. Barrie book… He spent a lot of time thinking about Neverland, pondering about where everything was… and imagining all the adventures he would have with the lost boys as soon as he would get there. He came up with a lot of cunning plans to get rid of Captain Hook!
He wrote that note to Peter Pan a year ago, on the back of an old envelope :
He has been drawing treasure maps lately. Some are maps of secret islands which aren’t on any other maps… others show locations of shipwrecks, he can even draw a map of where the Titanic sank.
What he loves most of all are treasure maps:
His maps are reassuring to him. He was showing the map above to the paramedics last week, when they came at 6 am to take his dad to hospital (He had excruciating back pains caused by a trapped nerve).
Thom had slept in his pirate outfit and insisted to show this treasure map (above) to the paramedics. That was his way to deal with the situation, because he didn’t know what to do. When they put his dad in the ambulance, He was still showing him his map through the window.
I suppose maps are reassuring to all of us. It’s a point of reference, a starting point… depending on the scale it either shows us as the big shark in a tiny pond, or a speck of dust in an infinite universe…
It makes us feel that we are somewhere, on that map, so we won’t get lost. And if we do, well we can look at it and figure out where we are.
Although I hope paramedics are using sat nav these days…
We went on a treasure hunt yesterday. We made a map, and went in the woods to find an old forgotten treasure… and guess what?
We found it! Thom was so amazed and excited when he found it! He couldn’t believe his luck…
We hurried back out of the woods straight away, in case the pirates came back. We didn’t want to bump into them…
For a 7 year old boy, a map is magic. For his mum too.
I was told yesterday that there is a new Peter Pan film that is due to come out very soon… So more pirate adventures on the horizon for us then!