Timst’s Happy Place

The life map

by timst on June 7, 2012

Lately I thought up a sort of framework for relationships, their evolutions and life in general. It turns out that it explain / rationalize a lot of things, so I wanted to share it with you.

The basic idea is that life, reality and everything is represented by some sort of map, on a blank sheet of paper if you will:

carte vide

This map represents the whole spectrum of possibilities and realities, for everyone. Our position on this map is our current state of mind, but also our current spatial bearing, ideas, physical state, everything.

But of course, everybody changes. Everyday, you live new experiences, meet new people, taste new things, hear new theories, learn more stories. And then, you move to a new city. You start a new job. You begin practicing a new sport, or a new online game. Every single one of these changes, from the most trivial to the biggest, makes you move on the map. Our life isn’t just a point: it’s a line. A line winding through the map of reality:

un trait

So what’s a relationship, romantic or otherwise? It’s the intersection between two such lines. When you and an other person meets on the map, it means that you share the same ideas, the same desires and possibly the same space. This spiritual proximity quickly translate into an actual proximity, in the form of a friendship or a relationship.

deux traits

But as I (and Keane) said earlier, everybody’s changing. It’s almost impossible that you and your friend will keep sharing the same line, as it would means that you live the exact same things throughout your live. Of course you influence each other, but you’ll end up changing notwithstanding, and each millimeter of separation between your two lines ends up putting more strain on your relationship.


Your philosophy changed. Your work changed. Your hobbies changed. You left your hometown, your college, your country. It happens. To everyone. Now the only thing making your relationship stands is the work that you put into it: the phone calls, the letters, the time arranged together. If you’re anal into making it work no matter the changes in the context, you can make your relationship fly for a bit longer than it should.


But soon or later, the gap will become too wide. Then, either or both of you will stop working to keep your relation afloat, and it will sink to the bottom of your memory. It’s that moment, when your calls are returned less and less frequently, when the few time that you spend together is essentially an enumeration of your best (and past) moments, and when it become more and more apparent that this is over. And then come the breakup.


Contrarily to what the name implies, a breakup isn’t necessarily a sad, emotional or even important moment. But it can be, however, when one of the two hasn’t realized that it was over, or keep wondering why the other person has evolved differently.


But more often than not, both persons realize that there isn’t much to salvage, and accept it. With time and new experiences, their lines will keep expanding across the map of reality.

la vie

This simple principle is handy to explain some others phenomenons: what is nostalgia? It’s wanting to return to a former point on the map. But it’s impossible. Things have changed forever. Words were said that could never be taken back. You have lived experiences that you’ll never forget. The quintessential nostalgic experience is those alumnus meeting, when you come back to your school and meet back your former classmates. You come here expecting to relive your teenage days, but obviously it’s not going to happen. You leave feeling uneasy: it was the guys and gals with whom you spent your school days, but they had… changed. They were not the same.
You just experienced disappointment: the gap between expectation and reality. The gap between two points of a map.