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Cartography in life is not Navigation

A Cartographer doesn't need a map. They make their own maps. They learn about the terrain and learn about it. A navigator has a map, knows where he is going and finds the route to get there.

It seems that all I was taught was Navigation in life. How to make a way to a place. It was useful only as far as I was in school where the goal-to-reach was clear; simply the path to take was all that needed figuring out. Yet life outside of school, even in college is more like doing cartography: you have no map, no clear direction and yet you have to make you way. This is totally different from Navigation. You can ignore most of the terrain with a good map. If you are good at navigating and have a map you are not likely to get lost. However, what do you do when you have to go the areas outside the map?

My schooling seems to reflect more of an medieval world or industrial world than the post-industrial world we live on now. And many times I've felt ill-prepared for the world I live in now, because while I was taught orienteering skills (that is how to navigate with a map) I wasn't taught how to make a map. Yet it seems that outside some very narrowly defined paths, what you need is cartography skills and knowing how to make your way without a map.

The prescriptionary way of teaching about life has advantages. Saying something "when sick > go to > doctor" is a good shortcut, but what then if your doctor doesn't know how to cure you? What if there is no cure? What happens when the map of how things are "supposed" to be fails? Those skills are important too, and they're harder to learn. They're also harder to value in a world where people who live inside the map consider those skills irrelevant.

When I started writing this post in April this year, I thought by now I'd have a job. I'm still on the market. This is one of those moments where "I'm off the map." It's an interesting place to be, but an uncertain one. An boy if you haven't been taught to deal with uncertainty you want to collapse it to a certain. Is this a mountain or a trough, is this a hiatus, a welcome break to heal and learn new things, or a predictor? None are certain. Yet my brain wants to make them so, just so I can put it in my map of life as one or the other.


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