As we help ourselves and others write letters to and from our homelands, we can also map the journey we make that emerges from the writing.
The map of the homeland journey consists of the key words and images that shape that journey between where we are now and where we came from.
These key words are spread out on a big sheet of paper and clusters of words that seem to belong together are circled. As we talk and write and read out our letters these key words link to new connections and we draw lines and arrows to track the lines of thinking and feeling that shape our memories.
It helps see what is important, and where we don’t want to go or what we may have missed or waits to be explored another time.
A map of our homeland journey can help us keep track, stand back and not get lost. It allows us to see the bigger picture and jump from one bit or the story to another bit and make connections.
Combining these activities of writing, mapping, talking and giving voice helps us shape what we write and step in and out of a conversation about it. It may make it easier and safer to talk about difficult feelings and beliefs and renegotiate our relationship with them in ways that were not possible when we were children.
The most important part of this has to do with the art of finding the right words. This is a process of talking, writing, reading, voicing and negotiating. it is a collaborative exercise in the poetry of retelling our stories and re-working our memories.
When we read out what we have written, the mapping can help work out where to add bits. It may point to other letters, to areas we don’t want to go. It can help us see how different bits of our homeland culture held us or repelled us in different ways.
Working side by side in writing our letters one of us can help the other by mapping out what they write and checking the map as they read the letter out. This process of voicing is where the moments of increased consciousness, reflective capacity and emotional integration take place.
The art of making these maps is something to learn from attending workshops.
Writing and reading aloud brings words alive and points us to new meanings.
Making a word map of the key points which you would like to say in a letter to your homeland can help guide and shape the writing. With a framework to guide us we may write more freely without losing our way.
The kind of maps we make look a bit like the ones in the following diagram.
There is a desired place which may be held in mind sentimentally or nostalgically. It may be part of idealised past or ‘dream’ future. Such dreams may protect from feelings of disappointment or despair.
There may be a good enough place where things are okay and there is shared understanding and respect. In such a place we may feel dignity and feel we belong but without losing our sense of self.
As we talk and map and write there may evolve a map and reflect place from which we can see and negotiate with all the other places. In such a place or such company our homeland becomes more easy to notice, name and negotiate with. Being able to negotiate and make links helps moderate our interaction with the other places which may have become woven in as states of mind at the heart of our identity.
There may be a battling place at the heart of our homeland culture and experience where things swing between desired and feared memories and connections such as feeling very controlled by the culture of homeland and swinging between submitting and rebelling.
Tight fit kinds of homeland culture may make fixed rules of either being devoted and submitting and dependent or rebelling and being exposed and shamed or neglected or excluded. More loosely knit cultures of our homelands may offer a more secure attachment whereby we can be sometimes devoted or nostalgic and other times forgetful.
Every homeland culture also has a hiding place which might be mixed up with desired or dream places or just a place of collective escape.
There may be places where things have become blurred and we cut off from memories and numb our connections with groups with whom we were once closely affiliated.
the process of mapping helps us see how different stories and memories are orchestrated both in our cultures and in our personal and shared identities.
To find out more about this way of working come to one of our workshops