|Nikolay Okhitin, PhotoXpress.com|
In my reading this morning, I stumbled on a phrase that captured my imagination: terra incognita.
Terra incognita means “unknown territory.” It’s a term cartographers used to use to describe unmapped or undocumented regions. According to urban legend, these areas were sometimes labelled “Here be dragons,” though only one map survives with this wording (“Hic svnt dracones”). However, Roman and medieval cartographers did mark maps with the phrase, “Hic svnt leones,” which means “Here are lions.” (Wikipedia)
Why do we expect scary things (dragons, lions) when we face the unknown? Why not expect unicorns, or daisies? It seems to be human nature to expect the worst when facing the unknown, and to some extent, that’s what keeps explorers alive: expecting and preparing for the worst.
To my knowledge, there are no more unknown and unmapped physical lands, though terra incognita is sometimes used metaphorically to describe an unexplored subject or field of research. However, there is still the unknown land, the terra incognita, of the future. None of us knows what the future holds, though plenty of dire predictions can be found as close as your nearest screen—TV or computer.
Since we will all navigate the unknown land of the future, what tools should we use? The same ones we use in navigating our known world: our good sense, our friends and family, our spiritual principles, our ability to learn, and a positive outlook that we can handle whatever lions life throws at us. While we explore, we should be on the lookout for the positive, not just the negative, because I’m more and more convinced we see what we expect to see.
While we certainly should prepare for negative eventualities in our lives, why not also prepare for positive ones? Save money not just for a calamity, but for a celebration once the promotion comes through, the report card contains straight As, or the grandchild is born.
Truly, every new day is terra incognita. We don’t know what it will bring. Whatever it holds for us—daisy or dragon, unicorn or lion—if we cling to our tools of navigation, we’ll come through safely.