We are all preoccupied by finding our way through a morass of highways, cities and neighborhoods. We can't go anywhere without a map. Our cars even have a "location finder." These are based upon the global position system (GPS), which uses satellite technology to tell us exactly where we are within a matter of a few feet. If we wonder off the pathway to our destination, it tells the correct course.
I marvel over how the Vikings were able to explore North America and, perhaps, other parts of the Western Hemisphere without any map. Their only navigation system was celestial but it was remarkably accurate. When Christopher Columbus embarked for Asia, he didn't know he was going to run into America and the Caribbean Islands. How did he find his way back home without a map? Again, stars and the moon, as well as constellation of planets, provided the guidance for his longitude and latitude.
It takes an immense amount of mathematical, astronomical, and computer technology to circumnavigate the earth in a satellite, reach the moon or the planets. These astronomical adventures are well planned based upon emerging technology.
All knowledge begins with observations. Finding one's way in life without a map may actually have some advantages. By exploring life without a map, it is possible to find things beyond one's greatest imagination! Such was the case of Columbus.
As we continue to explore ourselves and life's adventures, we may not need a map.
I'll be in touch next month.
Thomas Petty, MD
Professor of Medicine,
University of Colorado Health Sciences Center
Snowdrift Pulmonary Conference