Thursday Thoughts:  Place Gives Your Mind Space

Thursday Thoughts: Place Gives Your Mind Space

Many of us sat in horror and heartache watching an iconic international piece of architecture go up in flames in real-time. Seeing that live image of Notre Dame Cathedral engulfed in flames beaming from our work desktops or mobile phones as firefighters in Paris set out to save a piece of history without further damaging it in the process, a place that has seen so many key historical figures pass through its doors, served as a religious symbol for some and for many locals, become a part of their own narrative as part of their surroundings they’ve come to know as home.






I was fortunate enough to step inside the cathedral nearly 30 years ago on a humanities study tour in college before my junior year. At the time, we had just come from visiting such other iconic churches as Westminster Abbey, Canterbury Cathedral and the breathtaking Mont-Saint-Michel also in Paris. There were more to come which would leave me even more breathless like the Santa Croce Church in Florence. We all connect differently to places. For some of my fellow travelers, Notre Dame had them oohing and aahing. For me, Santa Croce and Canterbury Cathedral may have captivated me more, but I was definitely appreciative for Notre Dame’s unique perspectives from the interior and angles that seemed to come at you at every turn as you strolled toward the altar. Studying it from the outside, I was fascinated how the front and back were so different from each other and tended to illicit very different reactions from people.



In any of these beautiful buildings I was lucky enough to roam, I found myself in awe, overwhelmed by thoughts of all that had taken place here before me. When I stopped long enough to realize how much history lay between these walls and yet here I stood in 1989, with no other purpose than to admire, learn and be inspired, it made me so grateful – to my parents who had supported my decision to go to Europe to study art and architecture over buying a new Mac computer, which absolutely would have put me more on the path of a design or publishing skill set earlier. I saw more value to me personally by going on that trip. I won’t begin to jot down the long list of things that never would have happened if I had gotten the Mac instead. (I know some of my die-hard Apple friends out there are convinced that I blew it!)






Seeing the world then – even just the five countries I had an opportunity to visit – opened my mind…at a time when it needed some serious opening. Travel can do that to you. If all you’ve ever known are the surroundings that lay near you right now, then you need to get up and hop in that automobile or book a ship, train or plane and get the hell out of there. Give yourself permission to take in another view. It can allow your thoughts to travel to other places, too, when you have an opportunity to see how others live and do things. You cannot appreciate all that you have or get to the heart of all that you want without letting yourself roam.







“Roam” is not just one of my favorite B-52s songs. It’s a mission. And if you are a creative person, whether it’s writing, photography, art and design, fashion, music — you cannot grow without taking yourself to new places. It’s not just about the sites. Sure, it’s wonderful to go exploring the buildings, parks, attractions, shops and restaurants that make up a place but it’s what cannot be snapped in a photo or captured on video — it’s the tone of the town, the smell of the air, the feel of the streets below your feet and the overall culture and countenance of the city or country town you visit. I have friends who think it’s a little nutty to want to see all of the baseball parks in the country. I try to explain but they just don’t get it — every ballpark is different and not just the way it’s set up, the food offered or the team but the feel of that park — the vibes their fans give off — the skyline you take in as you look out past the park. Not one park is like the last. And that’s how I view every city we explore, even if it’s just for a few days. Every place is different, and the more you get to roam, the more room you give your viewpoints and imagination the opportunity to roam and grow, too.


You can look at pictures of the art.


Or you can get up there and be near it, experience it for yourself.


 This is “Fire Dance” by David Black, located in Ft. Myers, Fla., by the way. It is featured in my summer short story “Pedestal” in my second book OUR SEASONS.



You can probably figure out in which camp I pitch my tent.



Roaming does not have to be expensive or extensive, for that matter. And it doesn’t have to be outside the country — start small. Take short treks to new places in your town that you’ve never taken the time to explore. Be a tourist in your own neighborhood. You’ll be surprised how much you don’t know about your surroundings, and once you get a little more adventurous, plan a slightly longer journey and take a trip to the other coast if you’re here in Florida, or go roam the next county over from you. Sometimes the simplest concept can give the greatest return and we may have no idea how much we can benefit from just a little piece of advice like ‘Roam, Get Away, Go Explore!’  But believe me, especially if you are a creative person stuck in a rut or holding pattern, or trying to find your voice again or maybe for the first time ever, nothing encourages you more like a few miles between you and where you’ve been.



As always, thanks for reading. Now go skidaddle. Get outta here, you knuckleheads. ~ Chris K.






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