A sense of place

Have you ever had that feeling when walking into a place for the first time that you were immediately at home there, but without quite knowing why?  Perhaps that place reminded you of somewhere else that was special, or evoked feelings that you somehow associated with it without being able to pinpoint exactly what other place or where those feelings came from.

These feelings can be hard to make sense of.  It can be difficult to understand why somewhere or something – unremarkable on the face of it – brings back certain feelings, good or bad. Finding yourself somewhere like this can leave you feeling ambushed by your emotions because, like relationships with people, relationships with places have their elements of mystery.

Author and columnist Lucy Kellaway last year wrote an article called ‘Do not buy this house.’  These were the exact words her surveyor used when she was thinking about buying the house she has now lived in for a number of years.  It was expensive and required a great deal of work, not all of which cured its many problems. 

But the feelings she then had for this house overwhelmed her.  What is so striking about her description of this is that it was like having a relationship with a person.  She says ‘when I’m alone the place keeps me company’ and ‘this is the first time in my life I have not wanted to put my mark on the place where I live; instead, I hoped it would put its mark on me’.

Feeling so at ease in a place where it feels good just to let it have its way with you is a special experience and is to be valued.  I sometimes suggest that clients call such a place to mind – if they have one – and imagine themselves there as a way of self-calming in times of stress or sleeplessness. 

Also, surrendering to our special places can be so much more helpful to us than trying to impose our own will on them.  Or as Kellaway would have it, ‘As I couldn’t stop the leaking, I learnt to stop minding’.  And in a way there is perhaps something for us to learn here in terms of our relationships with people as well.