View Full Version : The Problem of "Place"

August 10th, 2008, 01:17 PM
Cheddarsox was wondering where everybody has been, and I understand the sentiment since I'm not entirely sure where I am and what that has to do with my spirituality. One of the comforts of pantheism is the connection I feel with my environment and the way I feel like I am part of many different systems all at once.

I am currently an expat though, living away from Canada and that has thrown me for a bit of a loop. I am a Canadian, through and through, but have enjoyed living abroad. Recently though I have begun to feel jaded and very negative about where I am living and I find it hard to immerse myself fully in my environment. This was brought fully to the fore by the fact that I have just returned from a 3.5 week trip home to Canada. This trip was wonderful and the connection I felt with the city and the country was powerful. On my return to my current residence, I was once again hit with discomfort and discordance.

This flies straight in the face of what I believe, that I am part of a system, always. It doesn't make sense that I should be so unable to find my centre and my connection with the all. Place clearly has a huge impact on me.

I am trying hard to enjoy my current home, since I must remain, but I would love to hear stories of how others have made connections in a place they felt unwelcome to boost my confidence.


August 11th, 2008, 04:53 AM
I don't think that is solely a question of Pantheism. I think that what you are experiencing is homesickness. A part of you still wants to go home and that is very understandalbe.

I have not lived as far away from home as you are but I did have to move to a new workplace once that required us to move home. Things didn't work out, thanks to my employer, and we went through a hard time and eventually moved back home again. Despite that I felt very comfortable in my new surroundings outside of the work problems. Nevertheless, I also got pangs of homesickness.

On a spiritual level you probably are connected as much as ever, but on an emotional level you heart is still in Canada! If you have to remain an ex-pat probably the best way to deal with this is by immersing yourself in activities to keep yourself busy and learn to enjoy being where you are at the moment. Perhaps you can plan for a more permanent return to Canada sometime in the future?

August 11th, 2008, 05:02 AM
Yes, part of it is homesickness and I have immersed myself here (I've been here for over 2 years). But I feel like it's more than that, I truly don't feel present in the community around me. I am present in my workplace and with my friends, but not as I walk down the street, not in the grocery store, not on the bus. The wider networks are missing and I am only beginning to notice the hole where they should be.


August 11th, 2008, 05:09 AM
That's interesting.

Perhaps your subconscious wants to return to Canada more than you realise? It could be that you are stopping yourself from finding the connexions here because you want to return to Canada so much and your subconscious is trying to suggest that you can only re-connect there?

This is a difficult problem because it strays into areas that are quite rightly private and personal.

August 11th, 2008, 05:56 AM
I'm an ex pat too.. any I don't know.. no place is as sacred as the place you came from... still I am working on seeing and being where I am.. but perhaps it is that being an adult in a place is not the same as being a child in a place and THAT can not be duplicated.

The Appalachias are always the mountains of my heart.. they I often feel affection for my current mountains.. it is as if... well... they are a far 2nd best.

August 11th, 2008, 05:32 PM
Place has an impact on me. I however fled my region of origin and never looked back.

I feel much more at home where I live now.

But even my recent change of home, within the same town, has had a big effect on me. I haven't bonded yet with my new place. I don't know it intimately the way I knew the old one. I haven't figured out how to be me in this space.

I am talking primarily about the physical land, etc, not the culture. The weather, land, plants, animals, all that are what constitutes place to me. I connect to the land, soil, light, things around me. They become my points of reference.

I have not be required to move from my country, I expect that would effect me greatly, but I can only speculate on what the issues would be.

August 11th, 2008, 06:04 PM
My wife, Kaylara, is an expat as well. She's been trained in Wicca. Moving to the other side of the Atlantic Ocean threw her associations with compass directions out of the window, both physically and spiritually.

Personally, I wouldn't have that problem. My connection is not to a local geography... I don't ground. I do center, and when I do, it is to myself. Which means that I should feel reasonably comfortable wherever I go.

August 11th, 2008, 08:45 PM
I do feel very connected to place. The mountains of Colorado are a physical and spiritual center for me, and always have been. I lived in Boston for some time, and I loved it there, but my heart always yearned to return to the Rockies. When the chance came, I grabbed it.

On the return trip, I knew the moment we crossed into my home state. My feet itched to feel the soil of it... the mountains are me. ;)


August 12th, 2008, 03:29 PM
I never expected to be homesick for Michigan; after all, Minnesota is pretty similar. Flat; roughly equal mix of coniferous and deciduous trees; 4 distinct seasons with cold, gray, snowy Winters and warm, sunny, humid Summers.

But I missed something. On our honeymoon in southwestern Oregon (a place, by the way, very different from both Michigan and Minnesota), my wife and I visited an area winery. As soon as we pulled into the vineyard, I started crying. Apparently, I'd been missing grapevines and didn't even know it.

That, for me, was gorgeous proof that everything is connected, even if I, as is human nature, tend to be more connected to the parts than the whole. Hundreds of miles from all the "home"s I'd known, I started a new phase in my life in my new place by crying for my connection to my "original" place. It was a powerful moment of connection for me.

August 12th, 2008, 04:07 PM
Although I've had many "homes" (about 9 I think), I never truly feel at home unless I have a place to grow my little garden. When I was a kid, my back yard was full of oak trees, maple trees, and random flower bushes (lilacs, baby's breath, and peonies were my favorites). My grandparents also tended a vegetable garden in the yard. My parents, however, didn't tend to gardening in any way. But even so, everything thrived. Every Spring the flowers would get bigger, the trees would get taller, and the veggies would produce more than the year before. Those plants were my friends. As they grew, so did I.

When I was forced to move into a tiny apartment with my mom and brother, there was no plant life to call my own. We had no money or room for me to keep a small pot garden. The place felt cold and dead to me. I never called it "home." I had the same experience with the next 2 apartments we lived in. It wasn't until I got an apartment with my ex-fiance that I was actually able to start up a pot garden on the balcony. Although that place carried dark energies and misery for me, my garden made me feel at home for the first time in years. Leaving that place was agony for me, not because I was leaving my ex, but mostly because I had to leave my gardening space. I'm happy to say that I finally share a beautiful apartment with a wonderful man. I have plenty of room for my gardening (mostly pot gardening, but some in-the-ground gardening as well), and I've never felt more at home.

August 17th, 2008, 11:44 AM
I find this very interesting because while some of the things that I have decided are missing/different for me here, the main differences I notice are actually the people. Speaking to my friends and associates, the different world views, different histories, and different behaviours are the things that strike me the most. I find myself reassessing my opinions and holding my tongue.

I really like the perspective that this emphasizes the way in which I am truly connected to the world. I guess I'm just finding it a very big reality check that I can't say I'm connected to the "whole" world, that we are all part of one - in a very idealistic way. While it is still true that everything is connected, I am having to admit that we aren't connected directly, that connections can be tenuous as well as strong, distant as well as close. Means I am restructuring my view of the All again - never a bad thing, but never easy either.

What do you feel when travelling? Do you find similarities with your home? Or do you focus on the differences? Both? How does that relate to your spirituality?

August 17th, 2008, 07:16 PM
I'm a typical Sagittarius. I love to travel. Regardless of where I travel, I always fall in love with the place that I have found myself. I love the sense of adventure that washes over me as I observe the new environment. The more I take in the different surroundings, the more I usually enjoy it. I suffer from severe depression whenever it is time to come home. Yet, as soon as I step inside the door to my apartment, I find myself absolutely thrilled to be home again. Wierd, huh?

August 18th, 2008, 10:53 PM
What do you feel when travelling? Do you find similarities with your home? Or do you focus on the differences? Both? How does that relate to your spirituality?

I take travel as an adventure. I don't really look for anything except what I can learn about new places, whether similarities or differences. I like to experience a place for what it is, to the best of my ability.

If I find a reason that a particular place resonates for me, that's when the spiritual connection kicks in. For example, Paris was great, but the Loire Valley is what really awakened me. To this day, I feel a spiritual connection to the history and beauty of the cities of the Loire that the rest of France just didn't leave with me. And a different, even more palpable relationship developed in Brittany, on Omaha Beach. This was a place where people from my home died far from home. I could feel ghosts there, even if it turns out there's no such thing. It again opened my perceptions to something outside of me, but something that connected me with humanity in its suffering.

Travel is amazing. It's just different from home's amazingness, that's all.


October 20th, 2008, 12:45 AM
I've moved quite a few times in my life. What I've found is I must do my footwork when I first move. I do my research. I find the local library. I look at road and topographic maps and take local trips to see and experience the bioregion. I study flora and fauna, especially birds. I learn the weather patterns, where my water comes from. I read local history to learn about people and events. In one house I went to the county planning department to learn about how the building was first built and remodeled over time. I also do energy and ritual work to "own" the house. But I never stop trying to learn about what's around me. I simply need to make sure I'm connected to the new bioregion, or I just rot on the inside. I'm not an ex-pat, but this is how I've survived all the moves.