A Sense of Place
Mountains that rise to the heavens
The Lakes at sunset that soothe the soul
The Desert shaped over eons of time
Without places like these, would life be as much fun?
When I was a kid, grown-ups would talk about travels to great places and showed pictures that were really beautiful. One of these was about a place called "Mt. Everest" where few men had climbed to the top and that some had frozen to death trying. Another place they called the "Painted Desert" and described it as awesome, but also described it as a very hot and dry place where not many people lived -- just some Indians. And then there was a picture of a sunset. I remember them talking about camping there, catching and frying fish in a pan over a campfire at night, and swatting mosquitos.
The places in pictures looked great -- I imagined myself being there as a grown-up and what it would be like. But for the time being, the only place I knew, as a little kid, was my house and back yard, and the street where we lived. This was my only sense of beauty and fun. As beautiful and exciting as these grown-up places seemed, why would I ever want to go to a place other than where I already was, right here at home -- especially if I had to deal with swatting mosquitos, sweating in the heat, or maybe even die trying to climb some mountain? This didn't make any sense to me.
Much of my beauty in life was playing in the back yard of the old house: there was a tire swing, a hammock strung between two weeping willow trees, a swing-set, a sandbox, and plenty of room to run. We'd play hide and seek, flashlight tag at night, and other fun games. There were birthday parties where other kids from the neighborhood would come over and bring presents. My Uncle drove up the drive one day and knocked over the trash can. I thought that was the coolest thing -- there was trash all over the place, and a mouse that ran out.
As a growing toddler my sense of home was not just cool, it was beautiful: simply lying in the hammock on a lazy day, swinging on the tire swing or, playing in the dirty sandbox and with the garbage littering the yard. This was my ecstasy and love of all things about life that seemed to be alien from the things that grown-ups liked.
For the most part, grown-ups seemed to be obsessed with things that were someplace else. To this day, as a grown-up, I've found that living for "now" is actually what I do 100% of the time, even when I'm not aware of it. Being aware of life with a sense of future or past events is like being stuck inside my mind, alienating me from the beauty of things around me.
At a very early age I knew that I was learning each step of life by enjoying what was in front of me right here and now. And as a kid, who was constantly aware of his surroundings, I was entertained by many beautiful things that energized my life with a “sense of place” that I called home.