Traveling to The Thin Place

When Eric Weiner described “thin places” in his New York Times article Where Heaven and Earth Meet, he reflected on travel to places “where {he} could breath again… and became {his} essential self.”  He listed bookstores among such enervating sites, and his mention of Powell’s Book store in Portland, Oregon, reminded me of my good intentions to get there someday.  Have you been there?  Bought a book there?

Rereading the 2012 article gave me some perspective on my own recent travels.  According to Weiner, thin places cannot be planned; they just happen.  Although escorted tours come with expectations,  those unexpected moments – usually alone – make the fulfilling connections.    I’ve found thin places when I wasn’t looking: my early morning walk in England’s Lake Country among the ferns and babbling brooks; my awe at the vastness and the color of the glacial lake in Canada as the sun rose over the mountain;  a bulldog sleeping peacefully outside a country store in Wales; a fireplace in Alberta as the snow quietly fell outside.

IMG_0087Some thin places have been closer to home: the quiet of the Pacific Ocean before dawn as I walked along a seawall, a deserted park before crowds of walkers took over the paths.

Weiner’s paraphrase of Kierkegaard:

“Travel, like life, is best understood backward but must be experienced forward…”

reminded me how often I did not appreciate where I’d been until later – when the memory of beauty or quiet sustained me in a harried world.

Where have you experienced “thin places”?

Making Friends at a Certain Age

“It takes courage” to confront a stranger to start a connection.  Alex Williams addressed making friends for those over forty in his New York Times essay – Friends of a Certain Age.

As people approach midlife, the days of youthful exploration, when life felt like one big blind date, are fading. Schedules compress, priorities change and people often become pickier in what they want in their friends…often people realize how much they have neglected to restock their pool of friends only when they encounter a big life event, like a move…

Worth rereading when everyone around you seems to have something to do that does not include you.

The sidebar by Jesse McKinley in Some Friendly Advice  offers 6 quick ways to find a friend; one is to “go it alone.”  In that spirit, I took myself to cooking demonstrations celebrating Julia Child, who will soon celebrate her 100th birthday.  People who like to eat and cook are usually friendly, and I did find new friends: Kathy, a writer from Australia, and Devra, the Coco Chanel of beautifully made ETSIS sunhats.

The best advice from the articles  – besides getting over yourself – appreciate the BFF’s you have and look for a casual friend or two – “better than total isolation.”  As the Girl Scouts sang – “one is silver, the other is gold.”

For more musings on articles, go to Read Between the Lines