We human beings find our sense of place by attaching it to stories. “This happened here, and then under the oak trees, or by the prairie slough, or on the top of Mont Tremblant, this other thing happened.” Places without narratives are just spaces, the blanks at the edges of our maps, unknown and unknowable.
Airports, for the sake of safety and convenience, do everything they can to tell the same story everywhere in the world. Boarding pass – security – gate – runway. If it weren’t for the constant human drama – families saying goodbye at the entry, the security fellow flirting with his colleague, the noisy high-school group on their way somewhere – airports, with their standardized everything, risk becoming mere spaces, simple stops on the way to real places like home-towns and vacations, and reunions and the city of your new job.
Here’s what excites me: if it’s the story that turns a space into a place, that means that if we add to the story, we can add to the place. A harmful story, of wrongs done and injustice, can change, at least a bit, in the retelling. We can tell OUR story of that space, and if in our story there is at least some hope, and some openness, and some healing, then maybe… Maybe the place itself changes too.
Still thinking of how it will feel to walk the North West Mounted Police Trail in July.
4 replies on “Of stories and spaces”
Some physicists tells us that by being in a place we actually physically change it, others say we do the same by simply thinking of them. The Murphy ‘s are thinking of you and hope to share the same place sometime even if just for coffee. That would be something grand indeed.
Looking forward to it, Jim. Let me know the next time you will be coming to town!
Greetings from KW, just back from the Ludolph’s where stories were added to an already storied place.
wish I could have been there!