Thursday, August 30, 2012
Connect With Maps
“Of course the first thing to do was to make a grand survey of the country she was going to travel through. ‘It’s something very like learning geography,’ thought Alice,…” Lewis Carroll
According to The Oxford Universal Dictionary, the sense of getting one’s bearings is a term that has been in use since 1635, with the meaning “in relative positions of surrounding object.” The need to establish where we are in relationship to other objects is a key concept in our everyday lives both in external geographic space and internal emotional space.
When someone walks into an office for a job interview they immediately want a sense of orientation physically and personally in order to assess the situation and lean into their strengths. A hiker needs to be prepared to protect themselves in unfamiliar outdoor terrain. How deep is the water? What kind of bug is flying around?
Or how safe is it to run in this part of town? A few years ago, prior to a convention she was about to attend, a friend came to visit me. She was also in training for a marathon and needed to run at least four to six miles for each training day. The day before she first ran I drove her along some routes near my place so she wouldn’t get lost. After our visit I dropped her off at her hotel, approximately fifteen miles away, and she showed the concierge a map and asked him to point out a safe route now that she was in the heart of downtown. He explained that all the streets were safe to run except not before 8:00 am and not after 6:00 pm—basically she could run safely only during business hours among crowds of people.
How to find our bearings will have a direct impact on the main reason we need to become oriented. As your characters arrive in a situation give them a moment to survey the lay of the land and orient us along with them so we can feel their curiosity or apprehension too.
1. What kind of survey orientation does your character prefer—to be as prepared as possible, or taken by surprise, or somewhere in between?
2. How does he cope with his least favorite method of landing somewhere new?
Share: What is the first thing you want to do or to know when you travel anywhere new? Why?