Landscapes of Life

by Nancy Casey

Living a life is like traveling through a landscape. Hills and valleys, blind turns, unexpected gardens…

Today’s exercise is a chance to imagine what would belong on a map with the title “Landscape of Life.” You can consider your own life, or a part of your life. You can consider all the things you have learned so far about life in general. Notice as many features as you can that a life or a part-of-a-life might have: companions, emotions, events, decisions…

At the same time, think about the kinds of features that might show up on a map: countries, oceans, mountains, deserts, cities, buildings, animal habitat, furniture, buried treasure… Lakes, crosswalks, bike lanes, living things, washing machines. You name it, you can turn it into a feature on a map.

In your imagination, combine life features with map features and draw them. For instance, you could draw in a “River of Possibility.” Then you could think up names for the smaller rivers that flow into it, or draw in a waterfall and name that, too. Would you put a city alongside the river? Mountains? Swamps? What life-features would you name those places after?

Go randomly around the page, sketching in features of a landscape and giving them names that reflect the features that a life can have.

Some people approach this by asking themselves, “What other features does this landscape need?” Then they try to imagine what aspect of living is like that feature.

Other people begin with an idea about a quality or experience in life. Then they ask themselves, “What kind of landscape feature does this remind me of?

Some people draw a page full of map features first. Then they go back around and name everything.

Some people start with the names and do the sketching last.

A lot of people mix all these different strategies up.

Whatever your approach, work on the map until the page is full and it feels to you like it’s done.

Take a moment to admire the landscape you have made. Squeeze in new details or features if new ideas pop into your mind.

When the page is all done, make sure it has a title, and that your signature and the date are on it, too.

Here is an example of the kind of map someone could make.

You can share your work by posting it as a comment below. You can type it in, or take a photo of it and upload the image.


Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. You can find more of her work here. It’s not possible to have an in-person Write-For-You class at the Recovery Center at this time, but if you are interested in writing coaching, contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center.

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