On Mapping the Unknown

In January I hosted a salon on “Enjoying the Unknown” and one questions that was quite difficult to answer was: How can we map the Unknown? We can map and track back the things that we know and that already took place, but how can we map what has not happened yet?

By asking this question, I wanted to invite everyone who joined the salon to imagine how could their life unfold as of now and to play with the flow of maps – streets, canals, rivers, cities, or to visualise the unknown in drawings, paintings, splashes of colour on a piece of paper. By mapping our choices or some possible ways our lives can unfold we could at least have a “taste” of the unknown.

Drawing maps was most of the time a preferred solution of mine in dealing with uncharted territory. However, that does not mean that the map will be 100% accurate, but at least it can serve as a guide or as a possible journey ahead. After all, nothing will truly make sense until we look backwards to start remembering forward.

“Leave the door open for the unknown, the door into the dark. That’s where the most important things come from, where you yourself came from, and where you will go. Three years ago I was giving a workshop in the Rockies. A student came in bearing a quote from what she said was the pre-Socratic philosopher Meno. It read, “How will you go about finding that thing the nature of which is totally unknown to you?” I copied it down, and it has stayed with me since. The student made big transparent photographs of swimmers underwater and hung them from the ceiling with the light shining through them, so that to walk among them was to have the shadows of swimmers travel across your body in a space that itself came to seem aquatic and mysterious. The question she carried struck me as the basic tactical question in life. The things we want are transformative, and we don’t know or only think we know what is on the other side of that transformation. Love, wisdom, grace, inspiration — how do you go about finding these things that are in some ways about extending the boundaries of the self into unknown territory, about becoming someone else?”

Rebecca Solnit (A field guide to getting lost)

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