Thursday, December 29, 2005

Geographic Existentialism: Prologue

It seems to me that you can measure the innocence of a place by the number of stars you can see there in the night sky. When I see the stars – and not just the really bright ones, but all the little tiny ones that make you feel that you’re looking into a milky cloud of dust – I feel the freedom to live life a litter slower. In Central Kansas, you can really see the stars.

During my college years, I realized and embraced the profound connections I feel toward places. I’ve described to various people that I feel about places – landscapes particularly – the way people feel about other people. I realize that this concept, these feelings toward places, seems awkward to some, and downright silly to others; and yet, I surmise that this attachment to place is universal, felt by, and affecting everyone, everywhere. Unfortunately, in my estimation, too few people take the time to really contemplate the matter. Most people do not sit around late at night, as I am now, delving into the complexities of geographical existentialism. And so I shall, because I believe it matters. Because we cannot escape the places in which we find ourselves, or the places from which we come.

Places become part of who I am. Now, I often define myself by what I do: I am a student. I am an intern. I am a bum in need of a job. Just as often, I describe myself by where I am from, where I have been, or where I am: I am from a little town in Central Kansas. I’ve roadtripped to Alaska and back. I’m now living in Colorado Springs.

Because place is so engrained in who I am, I am always considering its effect on me. Right now, its effect is very pronounced. I admit that I am in a struggle right now, a struggle to reconcile where I am from with where I find myself going – geographically, and in many other respects.

I am from Central Kansas. I have always wanted to leave. Now that I have spent a semester in Colorado, and have made plans to live in Colorado indefinitely, I find myself being drawn to this landscape, to this place, here on the eastern edge of the High Plains. And I want to be able to explain why.

Always having wanted to leave (to “get the hell out of Dodge,” as it were), I am confounded by this peculiar desire within me to absorb and truly understand the strange and quiet and simple beauty that now surrounds me. I have decided that I shall investigate this relationship – between myself and places – beginning with this place I call home, the place I am from.

In forthcoming posts, I am going to explore facets of what I referred to earlier as “geographic existentialism.” I shall expound upon my understanding of my connections to places, as those connections play a part in determining the quality of my existence in and with those places. Though I will talk often of landscape, I will often discuss culture, and it’s effect on me, for each greatly affects the other, and they are nearly inseparable for me, the geographer. I know that probably makes little sense. Perhaps, as I submit my posts, my thoughts will become more lucid and my observations a bit comprehensible.

Meanwhile, do a little exploring of your own.

Another beautiful winter sunset in Central Kansas.

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