I have always had some sort of innate feeling that I needed to be geographically connected to the place in which I reside.
But what does the word "connected" mean, as used in that sentence? That is something I would like to talk about tonight.
If you were sitting here having a beverage with me, I would ask, "Do you feel a connection with the place wherein you currently live?"
If you answered with a "No" I might go on to ask if you had previously experienced it, and are now an alien in search of home.
"Home" -- that is also a word filled with connotations. Inferences. Meanings.
But for now let's focus on this word connection.
What is it? What does it mean? How do we find it, if we don't have it?
Some people like to move around -- they may even anticipate relocation. As though they are adding tick-marks on a wall -- the way our parents measured our height when we were kids. In the past ten years I have lived here and here and here --- sticking pins onto a map of the world.
This may appeal to some people, well and good.
It does not appeal to me.
I want, and have always had a sense of wanting, to belong somewhere in a geographical sense. And belonging seems to include [for me] remaining….. putting down roots… setting up permanence.
Other people have never agonized over such a thing, choosing to remain in the very place in which they were raised as children. Hometown folks. They will be buried not too far from where they were born.
Again, this has not worked for me.
I have moved…. I have lived many places. I was born and raised on the prairies of Canada… a place so flat and straight that highway designers create deliberate curves so drivers do not fall asleep on their way to Winnipeg. When flying over the Canadian prairies, I imagine it as God's pool table…. flat, symmetrically perfect, possible corner and side pockets in the distance, but so far off that you have to be God to actually make the shot! As they say, you can watch your dog run away from home…… for three days! Near unobscured horizon.
Then I have lived in the very mountains of British Columbia. Remote. Bears may eat your garbage at night -- and raccoons definitely will. Did I feel connected there? For a while, yes, then it wore off.
Then I have lived at the ocean's edge, on an island, and nothing could be more interesting and beautiful and pure. For whatever reason, again -- I felt unconnected to the deeper parts of myself. Had to move.
I ended up here in Ottawa, Ontario…. Canada's 4th largest city at last count -- an urban setting. Not quite Montreal, and definitely not Toronto.
And from that time in the winter of 1994, I have felt a steady, and ever-increasing geographical connection. This, despite the fact that when I graduated from college in 1991, I vowed that the one place I would never live is Ontario.
Anywhere in Ontario, the idea was revolting to me.
I came here reluctantly, on a visit to a friend, and stayed!
It's been nearly 17 years, and the sense of connection has only increased.
Living in its very heart, I can walk the streets of this city, no mountains or ocean in sight, no celestial pool-table to be played -- and have a sense that every sidewalk, every city-sucking tree, is mine -- in some weird way.
Or, conversely, that I was meant to belong to them.
No explanation for it. I have waited for one to come. But no explanation arrives, only the feeling itself lingers and grows.
Just wondering if you can attest to anything similar in your journey.
We live in a global village. There is no reason that people cannot end up living in ten different countries in one lifetime, much less ten different cities within one country.
Have you experienced the power of place?
Do you feel powerfully connected to where you have ended up?