Perspective

The Lost Art of Map Folding

When you look back from the vantage point of a half century, you start to wonder why some skills learned at a young age are no longer needed. Take the fine art of folding a map. Now be honest, when was the last time you folded a map back into its compact stowed position? Okay, when was the last time you used a paper map? Odds are you’ve recently done more Oragami than map folding.

For me it was today. I couldn’t get the right street map online so I whipped out the paper city map from a drawer. I spread it across my desk and presto! I pinpointed the street in seconds. When I went to refold the map it suddenly hit me how long it had been since I folded a map. The skill quickly returned as I effortlessly returned it to its former compacted state.

It started me thinking if map folding is becoming a lost art. My father taught me the fine art of reading a map on trips and then the proper way to fold it back up. As a kid I marveled at the technique as I watched my father perform the ancient art in front of me. I was quite pleased when I could repeat the task in front of him. I wondered what other skills had quietly slipped into obscurity without me noticing it?

I took a moment to consider skills I picked up years ago that I no longer use — like copying music from an album to a cassette tape, or starting a car by using a choke. I contemplated when I had stopped using these skills. Like so many things in life, change can be so subtle that we don’t even recognize it until well after it has happened.

© 2020, CGThelen

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