When I was a kid I was quite into nature, especially in exploring “the woods” behind our neighborhood. It seemed all the kids in our neighborhood (and at least one nearby neighborhood) knew about “the woods”, because the pathways back there were pretty well worn and there was a treehouse that was built at least a few years before I found out about it. “The woods” was actually 10 or so acres owned by some guy where he kept his horses, but to us kids boy was it memorable. We’d build dams on the stream, swing on vines over the stream, pet the horses, build onto the treehouse… my brother and I even made a handful of “action movies” back there.

old picture of the field in "the woods"

old picture of the field in "the woods"

It also was the start of my habit of making maps… of the entire “woods”, all the landmarks (treehouse, the man’s buildings, the stream, the pond, the entrance into the woods, the park on the other side of the stream, hiding places, etc). This habit has not left as I continue to organize and plan, making “maps” of not only areas but also ideas.

Continuing on the topic of discipline in “The Road Less Traveled”, the third tool/technique is dedication to reality (e.g. the truth). I can’t imagine many of us would argue that this is obvious, but to clarify what he means I’ll employ his analogy:

Our view of reality is like a map with which to negotiate the terrain of life. If the map is true and accurate, we will generally know where we are, and if we have decided where we want to go, we will generally know how to get there. If the map is false and inaccurate, we generally will be lost.

Now if you follow that, here’s the challenging part – as we get older, new information enters our view… and it’s quite likely that our map needs a little revision. Often. I can’t speak with that much age, but I do wholly recognize that some areas of my map I am often to revising, whereas other areas I’ve grown rather stubborn in my beliefs. I can only imagine 20 years down the line how rock-solid those spots might become too, but:

If we are to incorporate this information, we must continually revise our maps, and sometimes when enough new information has accumulated, we must make very major revisions. The process of making revisions, particularly major revisions, is painful, sometimes excruciatingly painful. And herein lies the major source of many of the ills of mankind.


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