I learned something about myself when I made a recent visit to central Florida. The purpose of the visit was to gain the acquaintance of a handsome swain (see photo), and to renew some friendships from horseback riding years past. I stayed with my friends while Handsome Swain resided with his, in a barn perhaps 15 miles from the house.
I got lost on the way to the barn.
I don’t usually get lost. I have a good sense of direction, disdain ownership of a GPS (when has disdain NOT been a set up for humility?), and manage fairly well by dead reckoning and map study. I will ask for directions occasionally, but expect I myself to be absolutely befuddled first.
I didn’t get absolutely befuddled in Florida, but I felt befuddled because of two features of the local surrounds. First, this part of Creation is flat, and second, it’s also covered with thick vegetation. The road can stretch out for a mile ahead, two lanes between mirroring walls of green forty feet high.
Thus I learned that a certain aspect of my self-assurance comes from having mountains around me for reference. When I’m home, I know where I am in part because the same old mountain looms over my small acreage, assuring me which way is which. The office is away from the mountain; the city is over the mountain. From as much as fifty miles away, I can see that mountain (from certain vantage points), and I like that.
The way I feel in Florida, a bit disoriented, second-guessing myself when I’m driving around, restless and without an anchor, is not comfortable. I love the greenery and the sunshine, but need mountains to be at peace with my surroundings, at least for now.
That metaphor holds true across my personality. I need fixtures the size of mountains in my moral landscape (be kind, tell the truth), in my financial landscape (if you must buy something, buy memories, not things), my social landscape (a few good friends), and in other regards.
In this sense, I’m a valley girl. I spent the first twenty-one years of my life in a valley, I’ve dwelled in a valley for the past 24 years, and been happy there. I’m also a big trees girl, and probably a seasons girl too.
Are there geographical features or other parts of the natural world that help you feel anchored and oriented? The moral or social world? What mountains do you like to keep in sight?
To three commenters, I’ll send a $10 Amazon gift card.