(the Robert Burns statue overlooking Barre City Park)
Place has a big role to play in our lives. Our hearts know place and want to be there. Place is where we had our beginnings, it is where we were with family, it is where we learned to be human, and it is where we find true peace.
Place is not somewhere we travel to because we are already there. If you have to journey to your place then you are not living there. You cannot lose your place, but you can leave it, and many do. Place is where we see the same views our ancestors saw. It is where we have history. It is where people know our name and know of us and those that came before. It is where we put our loved ones when it is time for their last rest.
I think the sense of place is missing in our culture today and is part of the cause of a society that appears to be unsettled and not at peace with itself. Transience and place are not compatible. There are no roots in transience. Transience is a type of living that is dominated by only the very present, it is a state of being where you are at the moment, and maybe somewhere else in the next moment. Transience does not have the capacity to work with memory. It is too fluid and always moving. Memory and transience are not compatible. It is like the life of a nomad on a great desert that is alway shifting with the sands of time.
I think transience makes us fearful of most things. We cannot depend on much as it is not of our place. We fear the unknown and when we are not in our place, the world is a great unknown. Faces we see are strange and not familiar to us. Why would they be? Situations are hard to know and understand. The predictable part of life is not there.
Americans leave their place because they can, and mostly to chase money. Our aspirations are often dominated by dollars, and not by the values of place that make for a healthy place to live and raise a family. When we are disappointed in our quest for finances, we are not happy, and the support of a history and family is often not there for us. We become more and more dependent upon a government to provide for us and make the opportunities we think we need. As more and more turn to government to provide what they think they need, our political life becomes a push me – pull you struggle (which side will get what they need, those with or those without). The larger challenges of providing for the long term are never taken up as the immediate needs and wants of each side take up all our energies and devotion.
I was looking for a silver lining in the cloud of the pandemic, enough of a pause in all the other stresses of life to give us a chance to understand place and the importance of place to us and our families. I think we missed the chance.
I am in agreement with Dorothy – “I want to go home.”