Before the age of technology, maps were priceless possessions that even reflected the owner’s personality, somehow. Some maps were carefully folded and placed in wooden treasure chests. Some maps had frames carefully set in place. Some maps were covered with transparent plastic acetates to preserve them. Some maps, though, were old and tatterred but they still serve their purpose. Some maps were just stored in a corner and they were just waiting for someone to pick them up and dust them off.
My memory of the world map that we had at home is still very vivid. My father would lay down the map on the pink table that was set by the big wooden window in the house. We would put cups at the edges to ensure that the wind would not blow-off the map as we looked at it with inquisitive eyes. We would imagine going to the far away countries. At that moment, that map was magical; full of dreams.
Today, with technology right on the palm of our hand, maps are not that amazing anymore. You can just google for it, anywhere, anytime; Voila! The real-time map of any country or the world is on your hand.
But experiences, they say, are more memorable, impactful, remembered as memories when they are coupled with any of our emotions – happiness, sadness, fear, disgust, anger, surprise. Happy memories tend to live longer in our minds. Sad memories tend to be forgotten. Fearful memories warn us to be vigilant. And so on…
My experience of looking at the world map still lingers in my mind even when I am already at this age. Why would it be so? That imprinted image in my mind was a happy scene where our family took notice of the wind, the trees, the sun, the people passing by, and the smiles of our neighbors who were watching us from their windows, and the warm interest of the members of our family as we listened to our father. The map in my mind is an image of a simple family who is seeking to learn by whatever means they have.
One day, I was searching for the map. “I need to see that map again,” I told myself. So I got out of my bed and walked through the hallway. It was a dark and narrow hallway. I could see a candle-lit room at the corner of the hall. No one was there. I started to have some chills. But I was drawn to that light. I entered the hall. The light from the candles created a magical sight. There were rows and rows and rows of books on shelves. The books were all glistening and they seemed to have golden pages. I walked slowly in amazement. “Who could have owned these magnificent golden books that seemed ancient yet new?” I moved forward in very careful strides. There were some steps which I believed served as a reading corner. I sat down and marveled. I said to myself, “Who owns all these books?” I did not expect anyone to answer me. I was just talking to myself as I was admiring all those books. But someone answered. Yes, someone answered from the candle-lit corner of the room. I got scared and I panicked. Surprisingly, though, I did not run. Then I could hear the answer to my question. “I do,” he said. The voice was so calm, so soothing, so reassuring. “Jesus, it is you!” Then I woke up. I got out from my dream and muttered to myself, “Jesus, it is you!”
My dream was very vivid. It seemed real. I saw his face; such an amiable face. I saw the glow in his eyes; such loving eyes. I saw his hands; the wounds were there. “Jesus, it is you!”
It was a dream; such a wonderful dream.
My memory of the map reminded me to go back to that which brought out the best in me. The map is my symbol of who I should be. The map is my guide as I continue to live a meaningful life steered and guided by the pathways in my map. The map is just my reminder that life is a book with many pages filled with golden memories. Who knows if someone will read the book one day? But surely someone is reading it now.