Tugging at the Soul: Rugged Surroundings
I have long recognized that my surroundings are very important to me and have an impact on how I feel and how I think. I paint my walls in colors that sooth and relax me, I plant flowers around my home because they bring a smile to my face, I surround myself with music that energizes or relaxes or helps me to focus. I keep food in my pantry that is healthy and limits unnecessary urges to snack. We spend winters in an affluent community and I have to guard against being sucked into believing I have to have things, things that go against my belief in living simply even as I enjoy the opportunities that the wealthy community affords.
But I have been thinking about something different since Jake posted his Sunday challenge of “surroundings”. I have always enjoyed traveling and have had the fortunate opportunities to visit some really interesting places. I am always thinking about where I would like to go next but have to prioritize because I have to stay within a travel budget.
I love visiting cities and have fond memories of Toronto, London, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Vienna, Boston, Dublin, Chicago, Edinburgh – but I am happiest in the wilderness. There is a part of me that romanticizes the strong rugged individuals that are able to survive the hardship of harsh conditions, but not harsh conditions in all parts of the world. I want to be interested in the culture of Central and South America but I’m just not there. I want to be pulled towards Africa but I don’t feel it happen. There are lots of places I want to visit because I know they are beautiful and interesting – but I wouldn’t be visiting with my soul. It would be a cerebral experience. Nothing wrong with that – but it is different than what I have been thinking about.
I find that the places that move to the top of my travel list are those that are desolate and rugged. I wanted to go to Newfoundland for a long time and it lived up to what my heart desired. You can see my many posts by clicking on the Maritime Provinces on the right. Now the two top places on my list to visit are Iceland and Alaska.
There are two place where I have been that really nurtured my soul, that spoke to me, where I want to return again and again. These are the Scottish Highlands and the Republic of Ireland. I wonder if there is a reason. Do we carry in our unconscious, obtained through an ancient gene pool, certain customs or ideals or burning desires? Are there places that we carry within us, places that speak to our soul, that draw us back. My gene pool came from Poland and probably Great Britain – although it isn’t totally clear where in each. My Polish grandparents immigrated in 1913 but my English grandparents never said anything about their immigration backgrounds.
I don’t look like the type to live a rugged life. If you saw me on the street I would look like a pretty typical suburbanite, but without a lot of style and makeup. I haven’t ever gone off to live in a log cabin in the woods – but I almost have to believe that somewhere way, way back I came from a place in the woods, and by the sea. My aging body loves the tropical Gulf of Mexico winter weather but that isn’t where my soul is from. It isn’t like I want to give up the comforts that I have to live a rugged life, but if I believed in reincarnation I would believe that I have lived in places very similar to the images in this post. I don’t have digital pictures from the Scottish Highlands but I can see myself in these pictures from the Republic of Ireland.
To read and see the interpretation of surroundings by other bloggers click here.