Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Life Mapping - Give it a Try

What do you get when you cross a recovering journalist with a cartographer? In my case, you get a guy who compulsively makes maps that are aimed at telling stories. Now in truth, I’m no cartographer. But I am a recovering journalist, a former radio reporter. I loved finding and telling stories and I loved all the electronic magic that occurs in a radio station.

Not long after I left the news business more than 20 years ago, I discovered that a single piece of paper can become a remarkable Life Map. I also found that for me the mapping process was life changing. Behind a microphone I could reach thousands of people, but with pen and paper--just a single piece of paper--I could reach the one person I most needed reach, myself.

A life map can take many forms, and here's a simple one that you can make from an ordinary piece of copy paper. Fold it in half four times and you'll have a grid of 16 rectangles. Label them as follows:

Here are three items on my map, one each from my childhood, teens and fifties. As you read my stories, I hope you'll think of your own, and if so, jot down a note or two in the appropriate box.

Childhood: My early interest in electricity was shocking to my parents. Before my 5th birthday, I somehow found a loose key in my hand as I stood on the damp cement floor in our basement. I was at eye level with an electrical outlet. I seen my parents put key in doors, why not try one in one of those two slots? So I put the key in and BOOM! Actually it wasn’t quite that dramatic. But apparently it did knock me to the ground. It even prompted my uncle to build what we called a plugger board. Real outlets, real cords and plugs. None of it connected to any electricity. Miraculously I made it through childhood and so did you. What story from your childhood belongs on your Life Map?

Teens: I worked as a ride operator at an amusement park. One of the rides I operated was motorboat tour around a small, man-made lake. I told a story story of the Lagoon Lake Monster while piloting the boat. One afternoon a rather large spider started crawling up the microphone. I focused more more and more at the spider and less and less where I was going when CRASH the boat hit the shore. Fortunately what really happened is that I looked up just in time to sharply steer the boat away from the shore. At the end of the ride my one of my passengers complimented me on the exciting adventure. I didn't tell him that wasn't in the script. What adventure from your teens belongs on your Life Map?

Fifties: One late afternoon just this past year, I was intrigued with winter sunset outside my office. I got this shot out the window. But I wanted a better shot without the light reflecting off the widow, so
ran up onto the roof with my smartphone in hand and no coat.

I took a ton shots even as my phone warned me several times of a low battery. When at last I was cold enough to return to my office, the roof door had blown shut and was locked. My phone was totaly dead my now I thought I'll be dead too if I'm up here all night. I waved my hands and yelled at a couple of pedestrians two stories below and fortunately they responded. My camera had the last laugh--not one of my roof shots turned out. What near disaster belongs on your Life Map?

All of these stories make me laugh. They all make me grateful that I’m alive. Thanks to Life Mapping I have a big less stress and greater gratitude for all the times of my life. So I invite you to give life mapping a try. Unlike my smartphone, there’s no battery to run down. Unlike a boat on a lake, there’s no shore to crash into. But like a four-year-old with a key in his hand, you just might discover something shocking. And wonderful.

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