Monday, January 11, 2010

Wherever You Go.....

One of the community groups I sometimes attend is having a discussion tonight about the impact of where we live on our happiness. I won't be there. Not because of my usual reason--the time conflict with my yoga class, but because I'm sick. The crud that has been circulating caught me late last week and I have been laid low through the weekend and am still not up to par today. It's probably just as well that I am not going anyway. I would not be a cheerful influence right now. Where I live in the cold dark North is having an impact on me right now, and I don't think it's a particularly positive one. It's not just the virus, though that certainly doesn't help, but the whole package. January is just not my favorite month. Has not, is not, won't be. At least not here. Oh well. Enough of that whine.

It is an interesting thought, though. That idea of place and how it impacts us. It's one that has intrigued me for a long time. I know that it took me a while to adjust to flat when I moved out here. And to be fair, it's not really flat flat here. Not like some places I've been. It's more gentle, rolling a bit here and there, and in some spots broken by small glaciated hills. But compared to the river bluffs of my childhood...flat. There is no place to really get "up" and look at things from that vantage point, and I miss it still. My friend from the UP says something similar. Only for her it was the open space that was hard. She misses the enclosing sense of the trees there among other things.

My relocation here was my first experience of small town life, and I have written a fair amount here about how much I have enjoyed living in a place where people really do have names to go with their faces, and where almost everywhere I go I can see someone I recognize. I know people who do not like this facet of living here as much as I enjoy it, however, and find it sometimes stifles them, and causes them to act in ways that feel less than authentic to them.

I sometimes idly play with the notion of who and where I would be in life now if I had not come here. If I just simply kept moving forward with the life I was living in the Big City, trying fruitlessly to pay off impossible student loans because I was too afraid to take the risk of change and move here. Or if I had stuck to my guns once here and said no to the invitation to consider discernment for the ministry team, insisting on my "temp" status, that I was going to "serve and run" once my loan commitment was done, so what would be the point of the church, the community, in life here. There would be no priesthood, no R, no Soul circle of friends and web of community, virtual and IRL. There would of course be something else and I would not know there was no this. But I cannot help think how much poorer my life would be. In my mystical Celtic soul, the one that eschews all the rational modern notions of life, I know that I was meant to come here. That this, as I say in my sidebar, was the life that was waiting for me to find it. It was like falling down the rabbit hole and once here, it was home. I am intuiting now that the place may not be forever. Winter is wearing very thin for us and R and I are dreaming warm and beachy dreams for the not too distant future. And that place, wherever it may be, will shape us further into who we will become.

So how about you? What are your thoughts about this notion of sense of place and how it shapes us?


Mary Beth said...

Such an intriguing question. I, too, am fascinated by this. I grew up in a huge city that gave me many advantages and where I never want to live again!

I went to a college that was, on the surface, all wrong for me (giant football powerhouse with huge military history and presence) which caused me to become far more liberal than i'd probably ever have done elsewhere.

I came here 13 years ago for a job, and have learned to love these prairies and the edge of West Texas not so far away. This is where I found my husband and my home.

And as I look toward retirement...would I go somewhere else? spouse and I both feel a need to be at or near the ocean. What does that mean? When does that mean? Is it realistic?

Mompriest said...

I thought the same thing, or at least the potential of this, in my call to the desert. Of course it has become a life transforming experience, just not quite in the way I anticipated....and, I never imagined that two years later I'd be thinking along the lines of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz...if you want to find your hearts desire don't look any further than your own backyard....

I'm grateful that your backyard brought you so much life!

Lauralew said...

I blogged a few months ago on the impact of living in a place that you do not like at all, which is what I'm working on getting out of. In my case, we moved to SD in 2002--and I felt called to be here then. The three years I was here the first time were among some of the most spiritually rich times in my life.

Then I moved away to Washington, DC for two years. I came back here kicking and screaming, and it has gone south since then. No longer a rich experience, it has become draining. Even my husband, who used to love it here, says now that something was lost between the times we were here.

Yes, the notion of how place shapes us and makes us who we are is very intriguing.

Rev SS said...

Definitely think being in the right place at the right time, contributes to our contentment and, in my case, peace and joy.

I was 9 when I knew the midwest was not the right place for me, 21 when I moved to SO CA, which was the right place for me for the next 30+ years .. another brief stint in midwest (still not right place for me, tho' the church was), and now Seattle Area is definitely right place for me for this time.