My good friend Peter loves maps. He also likes checking things off lists. Put the two together, and you have Peter’s current project. He intends to walk every street in the city of Madison, Wisconsin. He is into his third year and edges closer and closer to completing his goal.
Peter told me about his walking quest last spring. I thought this was pretty damned cool.
I caught up with Peter late this fall, and he asked me where I lived. As luck would have it (my luck, to be accurate), he had not covered my neighborhood or my street! He invited me to walk with him on streets he had yet to check off his list. What a chance, I thought, to be part of Peter’s world and this event, this journey, that he is on.
Peter arrived at my house and showed me a map, and what looked like a small patchwork of streets in my neighborhood. “How many miles do you think that is?” he asked. I guessed four. It turns out it was closer to nine or ten. I told him I was good for about four or five miles.
Off we went, Peter in charge and me along for the ride (or walk). We kept a decent pace, able to talk as we walked. We walked for about an hour, covering over four miles of streets, cul-de-sacs, and alleyways; if you can drive on it, the pavement gets walked!
As we walked the unmarked paths, Peter would consult his map to find the optimal route to keep the amount of backtracking or re-walking minimal. And here I find a few life metaphors.
- First, I associate walking those unmarked streets with the unexamined life or the discoveries open to us if we only dare to travel down roads we’ve never gone before. Change up the view; you might be surprised.
- Second, marking the map and filling in the streets resonates as that desire for completeness or fulfillment that we have for personal goals, achievements, and dreams.
- Finally, I find joy and gratitude to be a part of Peter’s journey. Not only in walking the streets of Madison, but also being part of this thin slice in his life journey. What a gift. Peter and I are different in many ways. We value those differences, and it gives us opportunities to explore common ground to learn and grow with each other.
I am grateful to have people like Peter in my life, who help me color in the streets of my journey that I otherwise might not walk.