Place revisited is powerful medicine. It can be a healing balm or a seeping poison based on events past combined with individual memory. Our senses come alive within the scenes of yesterday whether pleasurable or painful. A return to places past is like going on a movie set where the participant “struts or frets his hour upon a stage”, as Hamlet says in his famous soliloquy. Our return to the landscapes of our youth stimulates the theatrical elements of our storyline where we watch the tape of self identity play over and over. But herein lies the opportunity.
One of the ways we develop self-esteem is by knowing where we come from. What makes us whole is not just knowing who we are but acknowledging our place in space too. It is obvious that people play a huge role in our young lives. But we sometimes overlook the environment, specifically the parts of our surroundings that provided magic when matched with vivid imaginations. Freedom for children to explore nature is such a gift and also a life-saver when available as an escape from tensions boiling over in the household.
A recent pilgrimage to the Sierra Nevada mountains with my sister became a chance to revisit long ago painful experiences survived together. But instead we used our precious day and night to remember the magic of our childhood. Our dawn to dusk frolicking through pines and skunk cabbage on Donner Summit was replayed as a simple hike through meadow and manzanita bushes. We found the ancient granite boulders and withered trunks conquered decades ago and remembered the songs bellowed at the top of our lungs as we once made our claim in the universe.
How wonderful to reframe our memories and replant our most preciously held ideas about who we are and where we come from. I like to think of myself as ever evolving in personhood. The chance to put magic in the fore when I pull out the mental slideshow of my upbringing is super powerful stuff. Having a fellow actor in the real time version, in this case, my sister, is the best witness to this endeavor. We make new magic for each other by rearranging the props on the set. Rather than being the stock players of a complex family drama, we are stars making our own story on nature’s mountainous stage.
It’s exhilarating, the solidity of a granite boulder beside the silkiness of it’s fine sand, and I am reminded that we are all more magic than anything really. Lyall Watson, author of “Gifts of Unknown Things” wrote, ” We did not come into this world. We came out of it, like buds out of branches and butterflies out of cocoons.” The power of place is ours for the taking when we remember how magical life is truly. How funny to think that magic is actually very grounding. It connects me strongly to my five senses and my intuition. It synthesizes me into wholeness. I, for one, am all for more of this kind of medication.