Choose a place that you find meaningful. Find it’s Genius Loci.
Describe it in text and image.
I really liked this prompt untill I started thinking about it. I tried to think of places here in Minnesota that held large amounts of meaning for me and started getting really bummed out. Then I read the Genius Locci piece and started to get downright depressed. In the last four years I have moved seven times, and attended six different schools in three different countries. I have seen a lot, and made more 'life-changing descisions' than most people have by the time they are 35, and been exposed to all sorts of lifestyles. It has been one heck of an adventure, and I am grateful for every bit of it, however, it hasn't left me a whole lot of time for 'dwelling'. Conversations of 'roots' and 'settling' and 'meaningful places' therefor have become something of a sore spot. In trying to figure out where was meaningful to me, and why Minneota didn't host any of those places, I realized a lot about what it takes to qualify in my mind as a meaningful place...
So. Tried to think of places around here that are meaningful to me and discovered my first principal of meaningful places and that is that (for me) they have to be places where you can really let down, relax, and let the spirit of the place in. I thought maybe MN was still too new to me, and that roots were required, and roots take time, and that's why I don't have a 'place' here yet, but then I thought of the island of Inishbofin in Ireland that holds more meaning to me than almost anywhere I have traveled to, and I was only there for under a week. So, that kills the time hypothesis, but adds an 'energetic-exchange' criterium- it has to be somewhere I could (and wanted to) let down enough to sort-of merge with the ground beneath me.
Which brings me to point #2. In almost every 'meaningful' place I could think of in memory the ground beneath my feet was just that- ground. Not cement, tile, or lanolium, but dirt or sand or grass. My favorite places are nature places. Wild nature places: the green grass spring in the mountians of Alaska, the tree where I did my daily meditation during my summer in the San Juan Islands, the long needled pines above Baby Beach... etc.
The few exceptions to the above rule have been really special homes (ie my childhood home, and my childhood best friend's home) and the occassional bedroom. These few indoor locations have been similar to the ourdoor ones almost every way except the walls and a roof. I felt safe, I could merge, I felt natural...
Extrapolating further, I guess it really comes down to places that bring back the depth in my being. Does that make sense? Places like Costco and the Mall are anti-meaningful to me because they flatten me and make me feel superficial in a very somatic way, while places like the bamboo forrest in Hana, on the other hand, expand my experience of reality and bring me back to my truest (deepest) self.
Minnesota doesn't have too many places that do that for me (yet) but I am sure with time I will find some. Until then, the place that reigns supreme in the meaning-factor for me is Maui. Maui no ka oi. Maui is the best. :) It doesn't hurt that the entire island is rich with unparallelled beauty, but it is also where I spent highschool and the home I am referencing when I say I'm homesick. The spirit of Maui, in my experience, is very sweet, but like all nature has a wildness that can be dangerous. The meaning it holds is one part beauty, one part memories, and two parts 'energy' factor I think. Some specific spots:
Makena Beach: a wild beach where we swam/walked most sunday mornings
The Bamboo Forrest Walk in Hana (makes the most incredible sounds when the wind blows)
Kaihalulu, or Red Sand Beach in Hana: a glorious little beach where you can go nakkie if you want to! (especialy if you are an old old man in a visor...unfortunately)
Oheo or 7-Sacred falls: A series of waterfalls that make for an exciting day of cliff jumping. At the end of the series there is an area of big smoothed out volcanic bolders where you can lay in the apex of the meeting salt and fresh water.
This is me up in Haleakala Crater during a weekend backpack with friends. The inside of the crater has a lush area (here) but most of it looks like Mars. Its incredible.
Baby Beach/ Baldwin Beach: the topic of my first version of this blog (that i brilliantly erased). A 'local' (aka non-touristy) beach that hosted some of my favorite memories. Extra-salty water, betimes brutal waves, seaweed that clings in little scratchy bits to your thighs and makes great temporary facial hair, group of men that seem to throw horseshoes and drink beer on the back of their trucks eternally, site of a few memorable dates, many good talks, and the occassional skinny dip... ;)
So there you have it. Ranier's Maui Meaningful Places Tour. I am now so homesick I could throw up. :)