Friday, February 5, 2016

The Connection Between Person and Place

Do you see this place? Do you walk about on this ground and feel each of your footsteps touching the earth? Do you look up at the sky, the same sky that covers the entire world, and know that it looks entirely unique from here? Do you glance forwards and backwards and sideways and commit to memory everything you see and then later remember it all? Do you imprint everything that you are feeling or thinking to this place, this one place?

Place is powerful, as is its connection with us at certain points in our lives.

When you visit a place at a specific time (an anniversary, a birthday, a first date, the first time you take your child out of town, after you received news about a new job, etc.), you will always associate that place with what you felt at that time. I've given happier moments, but it can be sad moments, too: after a family member has died or something of that nature. Either way, the theme in your life begins to meld with the theme of the place.

The roses at the Huntington Library strike you with perfection and remain so in every memory of them that you have. The rugged coastline of Cambria is exciting and adventurous, the start of a new era. The Painted Desert is simply beauty, as an image and as an action.

I realize that I have always been interested in place. I would read about thick forests and try and picture them in the woods on the drive up to Flagstaff. Or driving down to Phoenix, I would imagine that the fellowship from The Lord of the Rings was walking across the open plains. I could read Charlotte Bronte's vivid description of the emotion of a storm in Villette and feel the very same thing as I watched the monsoons here in late summer.

Every book that I like best evokes place so strongly. Sometimes it is a place I am familiar with and sometimes not; other times it is a place that I know is different but always picture as a place that I do know (like my example above of The Lord of the Rings). And everywhere that I go, I think of place. I always want to remember what a place feels like, what I think of when I'm in it, what the atmosphere of it is--what the impression of it is. And in trying to remember these things, each place naturally becomes who I am in that moment that I am there. In this place I am young, I am sad, I am free, I am remembering, I am acting, I am joyous. In this place that I will always remember this way.

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