Several discussions have been swirling around lately on the various blogs I follow about the relative suitability of ones location in terms of climate, activities, culture, economy, etc. And not coincidentally, Kathy & I have been having similar discussions as we ponder our own futures and plan our eventual withdrawal from the corporate meat grinder. Interestingly, I find a wide divergence of opinion on the role that location plays in one’s outlook, from the overall quality of life to intangibles like access to healthcare, a reasonable sized airport, and proximity to important things like the beach, the mountains, and an ABC store.
For the longest time, Kathy & I regarded Charlotte as a place to live until our “real lives” began. We saw it as a good place to raise the kids, it had and still has a good economy with reasonable prospects for employment, and we have much better weather here than we faced in northeast Ohio in the years prior to our move. Now that we’ve been here for a while – in December we will have lived in North Carolina for 20 years – we find that we really like it here. We absolutely love our new house, and as we work to put the finishing touches on making it our “dream home” we find that it’s easier and easier to think about it as a place we don’t need to leave. But ultimately it’s just a house and a place to store our stuff. It’s our outlook and our state of mind that makes a place our home. For us, whether we are in Charlotte, North Carolina, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina or Fort Collins, Colorado, I think home is wherever Kathy & I happen to find ourselves, not necessarily where our house is located. Although Jost Van Dyke holds some appeal….
As we travel we wonder about other towns as possible places to move to, but for whatever reason we always come back to our current home as the place we look forward to getting back to. And we’ve pretty much felt that way about wherever we have lived. It’s not that we wouldn’t or couldn’t make a new home somewhere else, but that we are comfortable with ourselves and are happy to make the best of where we are, wherever that is.
One of the many life lessons that I have learned from my photography is that there are an endless number of places that I could be at a given time. If I’m sitting at an overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway socked in with fog and rain, someone else is at Clingman’s Dome in the Smokies witnessing a spectacular sunrise or sunset. I’ve seen people racing up and down the Parkway trying to find the perfect conditions, but I’ve made some of my favorite photographs from places where I have stuck around to see what happened and ended up making the best of the conditions I was handed where I was.
The key for me is to live my life and spend my time enjoying where I am and making the best of it, rather than spending a lot of energy worrying about where I’m not. And I realize that doesn’t work for everybody, but as I think about how I prefer to plan my days, I don’t worry about where I live, I just want to be sure that I do live, and that I make the best of wherever it is that I happen to be.