Your city (or town or metropolis for that matter) is a special place. It’s here that you’ve chosen live your life, and here where your life is truly lived.
For many, their home town doesn’t change, and it’s usually only after long periods of time. In the past, it was even more rare to adopt the nomadic lifestyle. It’s something we’ve all felt: once you become engrained in a community, the community becomes engrained in you, and it becomes difficult to part ways. Even if you do leave, you may find yourself eventually going back, or at least frequenting that old place in your thoughts during your days.
Something powerful is at play, and it’s rooted in a connection to a community. The places and people around you. These things that define your experience.
Take a moment to lift your head and look out the window. Where are you right now? Do you feel that connection to your current home? Why or why not?
By building healthier connections to where we spend our lives, we poise ourselves to derive more value from our days, more value from our relationships, and more value from the very simple things around us. Let’s explore how to connect with those places.
Connect with Your Surroundings
Truly experiencing connection with your surrounds is one of the simplest yet most profound experiences one can have. It’s a sense of wide-eyed awareness, characterized by clarity and deep detail.
Often times, we insulate ourselves from our surroundings, burying ourselves in work, school, or in thought. While there can be pragmatic reasons for doing this, never lifting one’s head means losing out on rich experiences that can inspire new ideas and new ways of thinking.
To connect with your surrounds, practice observations during different times of the day. Be thoughtful in your planning of this, rising early some mornings, stay up late some nights. At each time, spend 10 to 15 minutes just watching the world. Set down your phone, turn off the television, and put down your book. Just observe. Look at the clouds, the trees, and the animals. Listen to the sounds. Notice how much more you begin to see when you allow your senses to focus on these otherwise simple things that pass you by so quickly.
Make the change even more dramatic by practicing this awareness in new places. Take yourself out of the normal areas you spend your time. Jog a different trail, perhaps without certainty of where it leads. Explore a new street on your Sunday drive, or taste a new taste when you go out to lunch. As with your observations, practice intent when doing so – take in each present moment, committing the details to memory.
Connect with the People
In your exploration of your surroundings, you inevitably explore the people that make it up. Some short, some tall, some slouched, some with a stoic look about them. Each person lives a completely unique life, and has a completely unique destiny. Simple watching the people that make up your city can be a source of awe and provide a true sense of the scale of life.
Real connection comes in interaction, though. As some might say, ‘back in the day’ it was acceptable to greet others in the street, strike up conversation, and know your neighbor. However, these practices seem to be increasingly lost. There is much truth to this, but ultimately one must be hesitant to simply point to society: it’s a product of our own actions.
When connecting with your community, be proactive in also connecting with others. Greet graciously, practice kindness. Forging connections with one’s community inspires a sense of leadership and cohesiveness that can truly change the world.
Building a Connection with Your City
As you grow your connection with your city, you’ll discover really why people root themselves in places. It’s not just a matter of convenience or a fear of change. Instead, it’s a connection to the places and the people who define the community, each a moving part that builds a nearly indescribable whole. A system of life, love, and color that inspires art and culture. A system of connection.