Here Be Monsters

This post is about maps. Not in any important type of way. But it references them in the same way that you might reference “research” while actually quoting a TikTok you watched last week.

Hey, we all do it.

I do it.

But, getting back to the maps, have you ever actually looked at those sketches of the world according to the author in the beginning of some fantasy books? They can be either quite complex, or quite simple, depending on what the book is and how often it really matters. But in some, there’s this section of blankness. And, if you’re lucky. There’s a little picture of a three-humped dragon breaking the waves and generally looking cheerful, scary, or some awkward combination of the two.

These little pictures are always in the middle of oceans and in spots where there’s no plot device, but they DO exist. So might as well put Nessie’s cousin in there. It’s a quiet admission of NOT KNOWING something. And I think it’s great.

This is actually a thing with older maps, around the 1500-1700’s there were little monsters dotting our maps, and it’s absolutely fascinating. Check it out!

After all, we all tend to know quite less than we let on. I know that I reasonably confident that I know about 3 things.

  1. If I eat food, I’m happier.
  2. Sleeping, so far, seems cool.
  3. Star Wars is fun.

Everything beyond those three points I’m still a little unsure on. Yeah, I talk a big game. I have held classes, given speeches, and talked, in great detail, about things I think are probably not totally wrong. And it seems to be working? At least for a given value of “working.”

But I think about those little monsters all the time. The ones that are place holders to make all the space seem a little less empty.

Because NOT knowing something is so incredibly, and absolutely terrifying. We all have the big gaps in our lives where we just have to jump or forever stay where we are , and it sucks. It really does, because the jump could be all for naught.

Or, that’s the general thought.

But I’ve discovered a few things over the last few years. Though the voids and oceans of experiences may indeed be dotted with monsters that are terrifying and horrible. But nothing seems to make them as frightening as our own minds. I have worked up every major change in my head until it becomes something grand and powerful, much like a sea monster, but the thing I’ve learned through Covid, divorce, and a variety of other spicy moments is that the waters may be deep, and dark, and cold enough to shred the skin, but the monsters you dream of, the ones that truly frighten you only hold their power from a distance.

Jump in with both feet, and flounder through the foam until you see them up close. Are they still scary? Absolutely, but do they terrify in the same way or with the same fervor?


Standing in front of that monster you see it for what it is. An amalgamation. A sum made up from the individual pieces. A chimera, of a kind.

And chimeras can be beaten, there are oh-so-many stories about it.

Once you know the monster, the waters are less scary.


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