Changing Places

I wonder how much truth there is in Emerson’s words:

“Traveling is a fool’s paradise. Our first journeys discover to us the indifference of places. At home I dream that at Naples, at Rome, I can be intoxicated with beauty, and lose my sadness. I pack my trunk, embrace my friends, embark on the sea, and at last wake up in Naples, and there beside me is the stern fact, the sad self, unrelenting, identical, that I fled from. I seek the Vatican, and the palaces. I affect to be intoxicated with sights and suggestions, but I am not intoxicated. My giant goes with me wherever I go.”

His words seem so inarguable.  You take yourself with you wherever you go; one’s place may change, but one’s self does not.

But that is a cynical way to look at humankind, isn’t it?  Are we just vessels for our emotions and our tangled and broken psyches?  I hope that is not all we are.  I hope, and I believe, new experiences in new places with new people can revive and renew us.

In new environments, we are free from the expectation that we will continue to be what we have always been.  People who don’t know us have no preconceived notions about us. We have the opportunity to build a new set of expectations in the people around us when we go to new environments.   For that to happen, though, one cannot just change one’s place.  One also must change one’s mind.  Unless one changes one’s mind, Emerson’s words ring true.

Ah, so he was right.  It’s not just about changing one’s place.  But if changing one’s place helps to change one’s mind, then one shouldn’t mind changing places, true?

Doesn’t all of this fly in the face of my interest in the Third Place?  No.  I still love the idea of creating, or finding, a Third Place.  Remember, the characteristics of a Third Place:

It is neutral.  No one is obligated to be there and there is no financial tie to the place.
Conversation is a key activity, though not necessarily the only one.  The Third Place is a place people come to talk and to listen.
It is accessible and accommodating, easy to be there and get there.
There are plenty of regulars who spend time there, people who serve as hosts or guides to those new to the environment.
The Third Place is low key, relaxed, absent pretense. Everyone can feel comfortable.
The atmosphere is relaxed, the mood is playful.
It is warm, comfortable, and homey. It is a home away from home.

Will I become more of an entrepreneur, more of a risk-taker, when I change my place?  Only time, and place, will tell.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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