Since I published my memoir, I’ve been thinking more about the idea of “place.”
I read this quote today by Fiona Stafford on the On Being website:
“Place” is more personal and multi-dimensional altogether. It is temporal as well as spatial, because it thickens with personal memories, local stories, history and archaeology. It’s not just a question of how things look, but of how things feel to those who know it well.” (http://www.onbeing.org/…/fiona-stafford-place-is-a-lan…/9086)
Writer Don Gayton calls it one’s “primal landscape.”
Growing up in a country with such an intense sense of “place,” I never considered until I was an adult that some people didn’t equate belonging with geography. As I put it in my memoir,
“I couldn’t believe my ears when I first heard someone say, “Home is not a place.” How could home not be a place? What in the world did that mean? Was a profound connection to geography, cultural? Was I operating under a fundamentally different set of values than the people around me? Was this Korea’s influence, the result of growing up in an country rooted in the love of motherland? Did I have a profound, inner soul-pull of the people of kohyang (hometown), a people whose country’s founding mythology was based on a real mountain, a place that existed, a place they still knew?”
When I think about the struggles I went through in my 20s, when my family returned to the U.S., I believe a lot of it had to do with the loss of “place” – the loss of not only Korea, and all of the sights, and sounds, and people, and history I had in that place – but the loss of belonging somewhere. I was a rooted person who had lost her roots. But that place stayed inside of me. Korea stubbornly embedded there. My connection to that one place went so deep that I couldn’t shake it. And my disconnection from that place was an open wound that could not seem to heal.
This has me curious. Do you equate home with a place? Or people? Or a feeling? Is place important to you? What is (or are) the place(s) that formed you into who you are at a deeper level? What are the geography and customs and people that gave you your fundamental understanding of what the world is all about? Who taught you how to greet and grieve? Who and what place helped you understand what to value, how to treat other people, how to give and receive gifts, how to relate to your community?
Where is your primal landscape?