Most news today gets pretty old after a bit. It’s usually the same stuff – especially with politics – and you get to the point where you just shut it all out after a while. Or does your mind just go numb with the repetitious nature of the items being reported? It’s too bad really as the NEWS (that which informs us from the North, East, West, & South) is really what our awareness should be focused upon for it’s what comes to us from our immediate surrounding environment. And that should never be boring, or perceived as so repetitious that we stop paying attention to it! That NEWS is really what defines our sense of place – the region we tend to call HOME – and ultimately our understanding of ourselves too! The Irish call it “crack,” as good crack (“Craic”) is all the gossip and conversational news bits that keep cultural life going. It was the glue that holds our awareness relative to relationships in order. It’s all that our common sense was customarily built upon and informed by – once upon a time! This knowledge of our immediate surroundings though has taken a beating in the fast-paced, multi-tasking, virtual infested, sensory deprived world that we currently occupy. Many resign themselves to the conclusion that that’s just the way things are; that change is inevitable – life at 70 mph!
But not so fast! Life at three mph is a far different experience, and any NEWS coming to us when rambling about our home turf is well worth paying attention to. Remember Odin’s ravens (Huginn (thought) and Muninn (memory)) who flew off every day at dawn to travel across the nine worlds, and at the end of the day perched back on his shoulders where they would whisper “news” to him? This Bringing of all the local life activity and the voices of its residents should be our news; that which shapes our thoughts and informs our memories! And a regular diet of it would serve us far better than the voices of doom, gloom, and despair that seem to make up the standard fare of the electronic news media today. Nature smart as opposed to electronically wired!
And this is where, and why, maps become such an utterly fascinating, useful accouterment to the pedestrian’s stock in trade. I am rarely if ever bored with a good map, and even if most folks rarely resort to their use these days, I can never get enough of a good map! It’s such good medicine for our brains! But many today don’t use maps at all! Most of us used to use a roadmap at least, but even that today is giving way to electronic navigational apps that dictate auditory directions to us. So, we can and do run the risk of becoming habituated to this kind of information, which then just becomes data as opposed to real navigational aid in respect to good NEWS! Imagine how well served we would all be if a daily regimen included a solid ramble around and through the neighborhoods country lanes, woods, fields, and byways that constitute our immediate sense of place, or home, these days? With an excellent map in hand to help facilitate our becoming grounded in this place we call home, we may yet discover that there is NEWS that can inform and nurture us in a more wholesome way than the varied unrelated, and disconnected, bits of sensationalism emanating from the electronic news wires today. The typical rough fare that deadens our senses and invalidates our connection to the biotic reverberations of the place we call home. Striking out on foot at all hours of the day or night puts us in better relation to our immediate neighbors, and the much more vibrant rhythms of life coursing through, and over, the seasons. Related to the miracle of the natural year unfolding regularly right outside our doors, and conveying a far more significant message of hope and promise than any prognostications from Wall Street or City Hall! The workings of the world may have indeed become a bit more complicated since the days of Gilbert White, but the simple pleasures derived from such close contact with all the NEWS making up the interconnectedness of the places we call home are eternal. Why not get out there and walk then, and take in this excellent NEWS? And to do so in a way where the maps we carry outwardly to help orient and ground us to these places eventually becomes internalized and part of the very fabric of ourselves; part and parcel of a higher, healthier reality of place – and self!
So, a pretty good plan; yes? I think so, but It does compete though with other “plans,” and ultimately it must become a matter of conscious choice for each of us to consider the following:
E.F. Schumacher, in his Guide For The Perplexed, has a bit to say about maps. He speaks about philosophical maps mostly, for those are the maps that most of us use today, whether we realize it or not. He states that one way of looking at the world as a whole is using a map, as “some plan or outline that shows where various things are to be found. Not all things, of course, for that would make the map as big as the world, but the things that are most prominent and most important for orientation; outstanding landmarks, as it were, which you cannot miss, or if you do miss them, you will be left in total perplexity.” He relates this rumination to an experience he is having with a “map,” but a map which fails to include things plainly right in front of him in reality. Why so might you ask? Because the map given had a particular bias to what it calls things (on the map as well as in fact), and this left him somewhat perplexed! A rose by any other name is still a rose of course, yet the interpretation, meaning, and ultimate understanding were far removed from his reality.
And it then dawns on him that there are many “maps” handed to us in life that are no different; planned steps and guidelines to take so one becomes happy or prosperous – philosophical maps, which are so manifestly abundant today. We’re handed (forced) many maps today; roadmaps to success, fame, maybe even fortune! Follow specific steps or pathways upon these maps, and you’ll wind up on Park Avenue! Most of these maps are subtle, but deadly in the long run as we become more and more accustomed to others doing our thinking for us. And that is easily accomplished when we live in the somewhat virtual electronic disconnect reality sold to us 24/7 over the airwaves.
What’s the answer? Not some expensive therapeutic course of action that requires the latest and greatest (expensive) technological wizardry, or pharmaceutical creation, but a simple wish to get out and walk the pathways of home, as well as the pathways of our minds, where we may yet create a reality based upon more wholesome NEWS! There isn’t much that the wheeler-dealers and guru’s of economic gain can do to pitch this simple human activity for financial gain. It’s almost free and in need of not much more than the thought out wish to put one foot in front of the other, and to do one’s thinking. So place that foot a step beyond the household door, grab a map and get ready to open yourself up to some of the best NEWS the real world has to offer!