This is last week’s question in Carrie’s amazing vacationgive-away going on over at The Slow-Dripped Life: “Where do you find yourself most centered,most connected to life and you’re most true self? It doesn’t have to be a place you travel farto get to – it can your own back porch, a broad scope of place, or a sense ofplace. The most important thing is thatyou find what centers you there.”
If I understand the rules correctly I’m not too late in answering this one, I think, since it appears I have until tonight at midnight. And if I am too late, it was too interesting of a topic not to write something about.
My first thought was the ocean. I’m happy there. I love it, and it makes me feel better. But, while it’s the place I probably love the most, I don’t think it’s the only place that centers me. I haven’t been to the beach since the summer of 2009. I live in the mountains. I think I’d be in trouble right now if the beach was the only place that centers me.
It’s definitely not the mountains. This area has grown on me, and I’m finally beginning to think of it as home, rather than simply the place that I live, but I can’t think of a single place locally that centers me. Then I realized that it’s home, wherever that has been throughout my life, that centers me, largely my bedroom and the kitchen.
I’ve always kept my books in my bedroom; as a child and teenager it was because that was my space. As an adult because I like having them near me, and I think the place you sleep should comfort you. I have a little book of quotes I started keeping when I was 16 years old. It’s a journal that I have copied quotes in over the years. Quotes from books, movies, songs, fortune cookies, magazines, things people have said, anything that really spoke to me or inspired me. I used to fall asleep at night copying things into it. I keep that in my nightstand drawer, along with a book of Emily Dickinson’s poetry. I read those things when I feel myself becoming unbalanced, off center if you will.
Emily Dickinson wrote my favorite poem, the one I decided would be my motto for living:
If I can stop on heart from breaking;
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
The quotes book is filled with things that touched and inspired me, everything from quotes lauding the power of friendship to quotes encouraging one to go against the status quo. These remind who and what I want to be, especially when read in a quiet bedroom.
The kitchen is my other refuge. I love it when the house is so quiet, and the only sound I can heard is the thud of a knife against the cutting board, or the scrape of a spoon against a mixing bowl. I am confident in the kitchen. I am capable of creating new dishes and coming up with new combinations of flavors. It comes naturally, without much thought, which allows me to think about other things.
There’s also a certain physicality to chopping, beating, and mixing. It’s an occupation for my hands that engages my senses, but lets me think about other things. And it’s timeless; people have always needed to eat, and people will always need to eat.
So, though it may not sound exciting, it truly is the bedroom and the kitchen that center me. What about you? Where do you go, or what do you do to center yourself?