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We feel it almost immediately—that intuitive click that tells us we’re in a space that fits us well.
It welcomes us like we belong, shimmering with the optimistic possibilities of good things to come within its walls or streets or cathedrals or trees, even if only for a short time.
On some deeper level, we connect with certain spaces more than others. There are places where we feel as much a part of it, as it does of us. It calls to us from somewhere beyond the daily fray and we’re drawn to it, sometimes without reason.
It can be as broad as a culture or city that makes us come alive, as small as our childhood bedroom, or simply a persistent call to live in a cottage by the sea, or visit a particular historical site in a faraway country.
The energy of a place resonates with our being and when it’s perfectly in tune, it hums with a melody that evokes a sense of renewed youthfulness, inspiration, and belonging.
If it’s a new place, we may feel a strange sense of familiarity, as if we’ve come home after a long time away. And when we leave, it feels like we’re leaving a piece of ourselves behind. Friendships form more easily, ideas flow more freely, and there’s a renewed sense of authentic being.
It’s a place where we feel most at home in our own skin—even if it’s in the solitude of a forest where there’s no one else to witness it.
These are often the places of our greatest growth and transformation.
In a world that has become less travelable, the idea of a soul place (as this phenomenon is sometimes called), begins to take on new meaning. We may simply find our sense of peace and inspiration in a specific corner of our home when the light comes through the window just right, allowing time to expand a bit while we feel most at peace.
The places we live are often the outward extension of our personalities, adorned with photographs and artwork, mementos from journeys, and shoes that have carried us on our adventures, tossed by the side of the door. We mark the growth of our children in inky lines on doorframes and teach new steps on wobbly legs across wooden floors. We fill their rooms with laughter while we watch our favorite shows and share meals.
These homes bear witness to our innermost private nature and watch as we collapse in tears in the midst of heartbreak. They see our greatest strengths and weaknesses; lost tempers and ugly illness, laziness and productivity, and our most joyous celebrations of daily life. We infuse our rooms with the full spectrum of emotion and energy, bursting onto every surface and imprinting into the fabric of the land beneath it.
But what happens when these places are left behind and we move on? Do the spaces we inhabit breathe with life or are they simply made of timber, nails, and brick? I’ve always had a fascination with this idea of the rooms we say goodbye to when it’s time to leave them. Do they remember us? And when the memory fades, do they simply return to concrete and beams until the next person arrives to breathe life into them once again? Do they have favorites?
I recently had the unexpected opportunity to return to the childhood home where I spent my most innocent early years. I walked up the steps into a brick duplex now occupied by an older divorced man, who kept it only sparsely decorated with essentials, neat and tidy, but devoid of the warmth of the mother and daughter who had once lived there.
I walked into the kitchen that was remarkably the same as it had been decades ago, and saw my mother at the stove. I passed an old landline jack at eye level, remembering the yellow chair I used to drag over to it so I could reach up to the phone with small legs and tiny fingers. I heard the snap of the screen door slamming.
I saw myself sitting cross-legged in front of an old television on shag carpet, watching cartoons on a Saturday morning.
I blinked and saw a stack of my toys on the basement shelves beside the washer and dryer and blinked again and they were gone.
I was certain that a version of myself was still sitting at a small white desk in the bedroom upstairs, drawing pictures of horses and rainbows on fields by a farmhouse where I dreamed of living one day.
Did the rooms say, “Hey, I think I remember you?”
Perhaps it is this reason that some places resonate with us so deeply, for lifetimes to come, calling us to return—a watermark of our former selves, still lingering.
Years later, childhood dreams of farmland came true when I found a house much like the one that I used to draw.
“I’m home,” I said aloud, the moment I stood on its front porch. As I said the words, I didn’t mean that I had found a house to live in. I meant those three words: “I am home.”
Maybe a place, like a prospective lover, fits the dreams and wish lists we’ve envisioned for the life we want to live, and similarly, a time may come when we’ve outgrown one another and it’s time to part ways.
Years later, when I said goodbye to that farmhouse, I thanked it for taking care of us and could almost hear the walls echoing the sentiments back in the silence as I slowly closed the door for the very last time. Would the essence of us haunt its walls with memories until the next owners arrived? Or forever? I imagined it aging, sagging, and turning gray over the coming years, just as I would someday, and wondered if I might return to it then.
Or perhaps in another lifetime, I’ll be strangely drawn to a small town in rural America without any idea as to why, and will stop by a particular hill where a house once stood, and feel a strange sense of familiarity and the whisper of a bittersweet memory that I can’t quite catch.
We all have at least one place like this in the world, and likely more, still yet to discover.
In earlier years, I may never have imagined that I would one day find my deepest sense of uncanny belonging amid the architecture and bustling culture of a city in a new country, where I came alive once again in the most spectacular of ways. A place where I navigated the routes of streets with preternatural ease and had the sense of familiar corners.
Different cultures and beliefs have historically understood why we resonate with some spaces more than others.
Hiraeth is a Welsh noun, which is often translated to mean: A deep homesickness; an intense form of longing or nostalgia for a place long gone, or even an unaccountable homesickness for a place you have never visited.
Astrocartography explores the reasons why some spots in the world just naturally feel good or feel more challenging, as written in the stars. Live in a town along your Jupiter line to find and celebrate your life’s purpose to the fullest, or along your Venus line to find your great love. If you’re an artist, you might find your greatest inspiration in a town along your Sun line. I once lived in a place that happened to be on my Pluto line, and the themes of coming completely undone and starting anew were very real.
If you’re one of those people who find themselves more deeply affected by the spaces they’re in than others, you might want to take a look at which energy type you are in human design. If you’re what’s called a reflector, for instance, the space you’re in is paramount and can have a profound effect on your physical and emotional wellbeing.
Many ancient cultures believe that our souls are drawn to different places on earth in different phases of life—where we’re meant to fulfill our destiny.
A young couple may move to a larger home to make space for a new baby, empty nesters might transition to a life of ease and say goodbye to the home where they raised their children, and perhaps a lone visitor will return to a sandy cove where they experienced the arms of their lover for the last heartbreaking time, before parting ways.
Saying goodbye to an old home or place where we’ve experienced life, and offering words of gratitude, is an honor to a time that has come to an end, just as greeting a new one in a similar fashion honors the dreams of all that’s to come. It’s a passage from one phase of life to another.
Still, the homes where we’ve lived, the forests where we’ve breathed, and the city streets where we’ve walked, in many cases remain standing for years, decades, even centuries beyond—like totems of our past selves.
We move on, but they do not—until we find them again and somehow know:
“This is where we are meant to be.”