How I Used Cartography to Live a More Optimistic Lifestyle // The Seventh Blogmas Post

One summer, I found myself wandering the sidewalks and realizing every beautiful little thing around me. I had discovered a break in the woods that practically glowed around sunset, illuminated with the greenish-yellow tint of sunlight passing through the leaves. It was gorgeous.

They’re Enchanted Places. Like the “Álagablettur” in Iceland. There are always little pockets of the world filled with some special beauty. I found myself thinking—almost every single map likely has little places, pockets of beauty, that are hidden or ignored.

That’s how, two months later, I ended up reading Ptolemy’s Geography. I studied it, realizing that the text itself was based on a different text that was lost. I made a topographic map of a three-foot-long hill. I learned the different types of maps and how cartography had developed over time, and the disputes on the best methods to make a world map more accurate. All of this I learned with one thing on my mind: that every map of a location, had hidden within it, unmarked places of beauty.

So, that summer, while walking down sidewalks and streets and through the woods, I decided that I wanted to make maps. And, in these maps, I aspired to label all the enchanted places I could find. I wasn’t just learning; I was wandering. I grabbed my notebook and began my search.

I name my notebooks…hence why this one is Shelah

Every enchanted place I labeled “E.P.” Enchanted Place. Some other areas, like coffee shops, were “Cozy Places.” Sometimes I’d give them names. A waterfall amid a nearby creek bears the name “Laurel’s Cove.” Some of them were names of people or things that inspire me.

Eventually, that same notebook followed me on smaller journeys. Trips to the grocery store. Walks around my own house. And I realized, slowly, that I developed a habit…I started looking for more and more places the wonder about.

I started realizing how many little corners of the world were enchanted, and how easy it is to not notice them. While the world is full of troubles, it’s also beautiful, in a way. There are so many things scattered about to dream of. 

Eventually, that notebook found its way out of my bag and back on my shelf. I stopped marking down places—in 2020, I’m barely going outside anyway. But sometimes I’ll drive by a shady oak tree or a comic book store, and I’ll remember that somewhere over there is hidden an enchanted place.

Keep wandering,

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