Jan Cox Talk 2850

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Jan’s Posted Daily Fresh Real News

JAN’S NOT SO: COMME CI COMME CA

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June 12, 2002 © 2002: JAN COX

When the young man arrived, the town was active, as always;
people coming, going; the air filled with talk, and everywhere, maps hawked.
For the memory of man it had been a jumping off point;
like the last outpost for men headed into a wilderness in search of gold.
After some time spent there, confused and uncertain, he found himself seated in a café next to a man with whom he fell into conversation;
at first it was no more than social chit chat,
but by the time their meals were finished and coffee was served,
the young man had turned the talk to travel, and to the purpose of
his presence in town (which ipse dixit, was everyone else’s also).

He gradually sensed that the older man was much experienced in the matter,
and he began to present to him the questions now on his mind.
“I do not know how to even get started;
not only do I not know which way to go when I leave town –
I do not even know how to get out of town;
I see people all around me apparently headed off, with maps in hand,
and there is constantly someone offering me one with the assurance that
it will lead me to where I want to go,
but all of the maps look different, and for some reason I feel no trust in those
proffering them,” and he made body and face movements indicating the question: “What to do?”and the man spoke.

“You cannot get to the place you want to go using a map;
as strange as it sounds, following a map will guarantee that
you never get there (this makes no sense now, but once there, you will instantly understand),
but the practical reality is that without a map of some sort (as you noted)
you cannot ever get started;
you cannot even locate the edge of town.”

“So there is a map or maps that will accomplish that?!”

“If you want to be as accurate as possible:
it may be that the maps themselves are irrelevant,
and that some people are simply born with the potential for this type of travel,
and the maps merely act as an agency to awaken it — but no matter,
to answer your question: Yes, it does seem as though there is a map out there somewhere that when you see it, it will feel right to you and will get you started
(but since you survived what was already said, I will go ahead and tell you: the maps are irrelevant ,and the one you choose [or that mutual attraction brings you to] will be no exception,
but for a long time, it will be all you have to go on, and will seem like a brother) — at any rate:

You will eventually, no doubt, run across a map that seems to speak some
special language already somehow familiar to you,
and you will adopt it and finally be off — or at least by its ‘directions’ (in quotation marks)
find yourself at the edge of town — at the cusp where the rationale of city thought peters out and you are more or less left on your mental own.

Most of those who go off do not see it this way;
they continue to study the map they adopted, and believe it to be guiding them
even after they have left town and are now out in the wilds;
the maps will say they are so directing you –
and there is no ready way to dispute their claims –
plus, once out there: what alternative do you have, but your map?!”

And again the young man made gestures asking: “Well — what?”
and the man continued.

“Once out in the unfamiliar territory you will find no shortage of those
firmly clutching their map who will confidently assure you of its veracity,
and indeed, will commonly try to get you to adopt it with even greater passion than those selling them here in the city (something to think about when it happens).

And be prepared: when you get out there
you will see no one who does not have a map and who swears by it;
and for a long time it will not even occur to you to doubt your own map
(most people never do so to the point of being able to face it and go on;
if they lose all faith in their particular map, they will just give up, and come back to town disgruntled),
and a good chance is that you will stay out until you die,
still trying to follow the map you chose and never getting to where you wanted to go
(but at least you will not be alone, and socializing with your kind can offer its own comfort).”

“Okay, so I finally find a map that feels right to me,
and it leads me to the edge of town;
I take off and it even seems to be guiding me out in the wilderness,
but you say neither it nor any other map will lead me to the place
I actually want to go — then what do I do?”

“With most who even get outside the city, the question never arises,
for they never realize that not their map, nor any map, will lead them to
the destination they all originally desire,
so the first thing you have to hope for is that this reality will eventually hit you,
and that you can take it without becoming discouraged enough to quit
(and this possibility is so remote that to talk about in more detail would now only be discouraging),
but if you survive that, then your fun really begins;
everything up until that point becomes like a mere prelude;
whilst following your map, you may well have had truly marvelous,
mind-blowing mental adventures about which you will never have complaint,
but in recognizing the nature of all maps —
and thus being able to give up all maps –
you have primed yourself for experiences that no map or sales pitch can
begin to describe.”

The waitress refilled their cups.

“What you are hearing now is for now, pretty much wasted,
for as you obliquely observed: you have to take some map to even
find the edge of town and just get started in this whole affair,
but if you take now seriously what has been noted, and consistently ponder it
as you move out and around in the unknown territories,
it could decrease the time it would have taken you otherwise to finally realize
the nature and limitation of all maps” –

he paused — sipped the fresh brew — peered over the cup and said:

“Since we have gone this far, why not indulge in even greater accuracy,
and call the maps what they are: imaginary maps –
yes, again it sounds strange, but what else are maps of imaginary places.”

He reached for the bill as he rose from the table and said to the younger:

“The journey is real enough, indeed,
for some there is nothing in their life that is more real —
but the travel itself is not the point of what you have heard here today;
the adventure is yours alone and individually,
but the maps regarding the journey are all the same compared to the trip;
they are descriptions of places man’s mind has created,
and thus can lead you no where but to inventions;
if there could be such a thing as a, valid map
it would be one that would lead you off of all maps (which is not to be).”

As he pushed his chair under the table, he concluded:

“For a great part of your journey, your map will be your best friend,
but eventually — if you have the full potential — it is your worst enemy;
to get to the actual place all would-be travelers originally long for
requires a man with no map at all;
all maps point-to and lead-to only themselves –
the discovery of that is the discovery of the destination.

Ciao” and he was gone.

J