I love maps. I love looking at them, searching for places on them, plotting new destinations to explore. Maps show you what’s out there. But there are three things maps can’t do for you.
(1) Maps Aren’t Directions
Maps will tell you where things are but not how to get there. (Ignore Google maps for now. I’m talking about an old fashioned map that doesn’t speak to you.)
A map plots out landmarks and places relative to other places. It does not tell you how to get from one place to the other. A map does not give you directions or a route.
You must figure that out for yourself. To do this you must know how to read the map and plot a route. Moreover, you need to know how to identify where you are, and how to orient yourself, so you can see where you are relative to where you are going.
Once you know this, you can orient yourself in the right direction.
(2) The Map is Not the Territory
Of course, then you get to the next challenge: how will you prepare to navigate the terrain?
A map is a one dimensional representation of a 3-dimensional world. It tells you very little about the location. It doesn’t tell you what kind of climate to expect and how the weather might be. It doesn’t tell you whether the hills are steep or rocky, whether the sand on the beach is smooth, or the conditions of the road.
A map is a very basic schematic.
Even a map that speaks to you and provides you directions doesn’t necessarily guide you to the most effective route.
(3) Undiscovered Places Aren’t On the Map
If you’re planning to go somewhere, almost by definition it’s on a map. You know about the place because someone else has been there and told you about it.
Once someone has discovered a place, it gets put on a map.
Undiscovered places aren’t on the map. That’s in part what defines them as undiscovered.