Maps in my Mind

Maps in my Mind

I have never seen a map, at least I have never seen a map drawn on vellum, but my younger brother, the one who went to study and became a priest told me about them.

He explained that he had seen a map of the western kingdom and that one of his teacher had seen a map of the whole world. My brother is an odd person, he dreams of drawing a map of the stars in the sky, he's persuaded that it could help me in my work on the farm. I know the large stars, how could I forget them?

I met a pilgrim who had received a map from a man who had walked forth and back before him. The map was a rosary with large beads. The largest of the beads figured the holy place, while each bead stood for each of the station on the path. One or two letters — the man could read — were engraved on each of the beads, and he could thus enumerate the cities on the way to the Saint's final resting place. The bead succeeding the holy bead was blue, "Heaven" the man said.

My travels are rare and very simple, I go to the city to sell some of our products. That's it. I don't need a map.

Some days, I do envy my brother, he can read and write, and his work is easier than mine. Speaking of work, mine is rather repetitive, there is variety, yes — they say a farmer knows a hundred skills — most of the time my hands are labouring and my mind is free to wander.

There are maps in my head and, though not as simple, as a rosary map, are simpler than the maps my brother described. I am probably wrong when I say "I don't need a map", may I amend it to "I don't need a physical map"? I am a map and everyone that walks under the sun is a map.

I see such maps as places linked by threads. I am not a learned man, I do not know how a mind works, do they all work in the same way? I see a place, I literally see it as a set of images, an image for the winter, one for the summer, one I don't know, but it was a good time. I have no images for the thread between places, or maybe images of my feet in mud or dust.

The pilgrim did not give me his rosary, the images he gave me, I made them up, the links he gave me, are tenuous — not trodden — but still, my map is bigger. We give travellers a seat by the fire and they tell us of places we know and of places we do not know (should we believe them?), our maps get bigger.

My mind is full of images, I know of people whose mind is full of tastes, and of others who know all the songs of all the birds. Are we that different?

I dream of travelling. I imagine that it would imply consulting maps on the way, I think it's as simple as asking my way to the men and women I meet.

I hope my imagination will not play tricks on me, I can already hear the laughter of my brother mocking my lack of worldliness.