To those devoid of imagination a blank place on the map is a useless waste; to others, the most valuable part. – Aldo Leopold
Blank places on maps are increasingly rare. With technology we’ve managed to reveal extraordinary detail on the contours of the land, water sources and potential sites to camp for the night. You can hike many trails virtually from the comfort of your home with street view images of what you might see. Even some of the most remote places in the world have 360 degree images uploaded from some soul that visited before. And yet there are still blank places on maps that tease and mock those who would plot the world.
Blank places on calendars betray opportunity lost, or not fully leveraged. Time is money, they say, and to leave blank places on calendars is to waste our most precious resource. Make the most of your day and fill every moment with appointments, meetings, conference calls, time for tasks, workouts, dates, drive time and even time to think. There’s merit in a full calendar, but there’s also merit in blank places on the calendar too. Some of my best career moments came in blank places that developed into magic moments.
Blank places in ourselves are harder to see, but we know they’re there. Revealed in quiet moments, in challenging tasks completed, in new things tried and most especially in things avoided. Risks not taken reveal as much as they forever hide what might have been had we just begun.
“Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.”
– Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken
The funny thing about maps is that they reveal where others have already been. When you follow the map you’re just following someone else’s path. Way leads on to way, and blank places might never be revealed. That’s true for most everyone, isn’t it? We tuck aside those unreasonable pursuits in favor of the tried and true path, never getting around to seeing what’s down that other path. Don’t despair for what might have been, but be bold enough to see what might be. See where stepping into the unknown leads you. Should you find you need to double back the world will be just as you left it. They might not even look up from their screens long enough to realize that you left.