The Power of Place

I love adventure, experiencing new places, trying new foods, meeting new people, etc., and I’m fortunate to have had many great ones. But as I write this post I’m sitting at a place I’ve been hundreds of times that for all intents and purposes really hasn’t changed much in my lifetime – my family’s beach house.

In a world where everything changes so rapidly and we’re always moving quickly from one thing next, there is something refreshing and reassuring about a place that hasn’t and doesn’t really change that much.

Beach Boys
My boys playing in the same waters I grew up playing in.

The house was built in the 1940’s by my great-grandfather as a place for his family to relax and get away from it all. It’s been passed down through the generations and my kids are the fifth generation to enjoy it. Both the house and the surrounding area hold a very special place in my heart. I have so many memories there of special times with friends and family, of adventures and times connecting with nature.

It is where I discovered my love of the ocean and of catching waves and where I started to spread my wings and become more independent as a kid – first with short walks to the candy store down the street and then getting to ride the town shuttle bus all the way “down town” by myself.

It is a place where I’m deeply connected to my past knowing that grandfather and my mom and her family grew up playing on the same shore where I played and where my kids now do. It is also a place where I’m deeply connected to the present, perhaps better than anyplace else. A place where time tends to stand still, where days can pass by slowly without much of a care about anything but enjoying the moment. Most importantly, and probably because of so many of these experiences, it is one of the places where I feel most grounded and connected to myself and God.

As I’ve reflected during this vacation, I’m struck – as I’ve been so many times before – by how lucky I am to have this place. I’m also reminded of how important it is for us to have places like this that connect us to ourselves, to the present and to God. The good news is I don’t think we have to have a vacation home to do that. In fact, while the history of my family’s house is great, if I distill it down I realize what is most important about it is it provides a place for me to be with family and friends, to be in nature, to be close to water and to slow down.

The beach house just happens to be where that happens. It is great to know that generations of my family have experienced similar times there but it isn’t the most important ingredient. In reality I could experience those things almost anywhere. For me it is about getting in nature, preferably close to water. That is where I feel most connected to my true self and to God. Fortunately there is still a lot of nature left and it usually isn’t hard to find water in those places.

No matter what type of place works best for you I think there are lots of locations where we can go to center down and connect and be at home. Thankfully they’re often are not as far away as we think. We just need to go there. Our lives tend to be so busy that we don’t take the time, but even a short amount of time in places that ground us can be incredibly refreshing.

As the waning hours of summer trickle away I’m endeavoring to hang on to that truth and spend more time in these places of deep connection and refreshment. I hope you will too!