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 involvement...in the church, the community, in life here. There would be no priesthood, no R, no Soul Sisters...no 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?