Are You a ‘Placitarian’?
I remember, while hanging out at the Chicago’s Newberry Library years ago with a group of friends, something propelled me to say, “This building has a beautiful gentle energy.”
I can’t help but feel the energy of places, towns, cities, rivers, mountains, prairies, etc. Perhaps I’m a Placitarian: a human being who is very likely to fall in love with a town, city, place or location.
The sight of a tree or smell of a flower is always more than I expect. I’ve never looked at a tree and thought, “Wow, that is so disappointing.” Nature always satisfies.
I’m in no way saying falling in love with places is actually healthy. I can’t be with other humans 24/7. I’m not good at everyday chitchat. Could it be possible to have a crush on a particular place? To have it haunt your dreams? For it to complete you? Places have moods, energies, vibes and souls. Old buildings hold a lot of romance. I want to catch a certain ray of light from those windows and flirt with the sun.
A place can also serve as an energy dump. When friends may not be able to listen, a place can hold all those secrets in its very silent way, and tell you what you need to know. It whispers. Years ago, when I has unemployed, I would treat myself to walks along the Chicago River. That was cheap entertainment.
I would make a ritual out of taking my worries there and dumping them in the river. This river became like a great friend who was nurturing, a good listener and also a very patient companion.
You can also be a different person in a different place. Travel changes ours cells. With every new move, you release the old and embrace the new. When I type out my itinerary, I see all these adventures and wonder if I will make it. Will I get it all done and see it all? When I do (without getting lost) there is such a sense of pride.
A big city, for me at least, is a mixed bag. The pros being that there are so many choices, feels, tastes, colors and things to do and explore. But then there’s the traffic, noise, attitudes and expenses. I love visiting a city like NYC that doesn’t pay me any mind. It wants me to be really interesting, engaging and enthralled.
The smaller towns do offer peaceful feelings, less traffic (that part I really enjoy), quaintness, and usually (but not always) more nature. The quiet gives my thoughts some room. The quiet towns offer more space in between humans.
Of course there are different types of trips. A vacation is about pleasure. Vacations are about indulging and living life in sparkly high-fat fashion. A retreat is a mindful break with the intention that you will come back renewed. A retreat is more serious than a vacation. An adventure is task-minded, and could be as fun or as stressful as you want.
I admit I even love staying in hotels. Something about not being around my own shit makes my brain more clear. When you travel, someone else is usually making your bed or doing your dishes. Maybe it’s the minimal decor of a hotel room that is a sort of sensory deprived clearing experience. Uncluttered room equals uncluttered mind.
“I have kept a hotel room in every town I’ve ever lived in. I rent a hotel room for a few months, leave my home at six, and try to be at work by six-thirty. To write, I lie across the bed, so that this elbow is absolutely encrusted at the end, just so rough with callouses. I never allow the hotel people to change the bed, because I never sleep there. I stay until twelve-thirty or one-thirty in the afternoon, and then I go home and try to breathe; I look at the work around five; I have an orderly dinner — proper, quiet, lovely dinner; and then I go back to work the next morning. ” ~ Maya Angelou
I’m usually sad when a trip is over. Although when I do walk through my own doors again, I love how different I feel. All the little things that seemed like problems are gone and made insignificant.
“Knowledge without mileage equals bullshit.” ~ Henry Rollins
I confess I’m embarrassed about how under-traveled I am. At the age when most are backpacking through Europe, I was dealing with death. First it was my mother’s cancer, and then it was my best friend suddenly having a heart attack. In six short months, I lost two of the greatest people I knew. I have had some pretty major financial setbacks as well. The farthest I have ever gone is Canada.
I’ve visited many of the USA’s biggest cities, but I still have so much more I want to see. I try to do what I can. So maybe I can’t do the full Eat Pray Love experience, but I could do the Midwestern weekend version of that. I could pray at the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center in Bloomington, IN and eat the pies made by the Amish in Shipshewana, and love with a big city fix in Chicago with old friends.