The Power of Place
Sometimes, all it takes to take you back is a building. Stacks of steel and concrete or the way the fairway looks in that sunlight can transport you back a decade or more. Looking out a bedroom window or down a hallway that doesn't seem so big anymore brings back memories and milestones you'd forgotten still lived inside of you. I was in south Florida, keynoting a business conference. After the speech and a round of golf with my dad, we decided to go for dinner. As we turned off the main drag and into the complex full of restaurants and shops, I got that scary happy feeling like I'd been there before. And then I knew why it was familiar and foreign to me. I had been there once, almost ten years earlier when I spoke nearby. I was a different person then, on a different errand, but the power of place overcame me and there I was, younger and unwed with more answers than questions.
It's the feeling of a Friday night football game when you're 30 but suddenly feel 16. Or when you look at the counters in your parents' house and recall a time when you could barely see the cookies that you could smell cooling above. It's the way your grandfather looked in his recliner or the way Christmas sounded when everyone was together under the same roof of that very old house.
Our homes are more than where we live. Our offices and schools are more than bricks and drywall. Parks are more than trees and open fields and roads do more than get us from A to B. Everywhere we go and move is a memory waiting to happen, eager to sneak up on us when we're busy doing everything else.
Places can be sacred. Churches and bars can equally have special meaning for those of us who darken either doorway to meet with friends and commiserate with strangers.
The only way to recognize the power of place is to succumb to its alluring pull. Let it wash over you. Let your mind wander back to a time when you were and where you were. And understand that the next memory could happen anywhere. The conditions never have to be right or perfect. The creation of the moment will make everything right by it.