We often drawn to a place, somewhere that you just feel that spark and you don’t know why. Did you ever land up somewhere on a whim or by accident, only to find it’s the perfect fit for you? Maybe it was an old photo that led you there, happenstance or a twist of fate; or was it simply intuition?

When this happens, we can be grateful for this experience – but have you ever thought why, or how, this situation occurs? Author Linda Lappin considers you’ve been ‘touched by the soul of place’. Lappin is a poet and author and she has written a book called The Soul of the Place. As we follow Lappin’s reflections, we discover that our feelings about a place may reveal a lot about us, and even where we could be happiest.

Finding our happy place

‘Many expats I have met in my journeys have confessed that they found their far-flung homes or exotic partners by following intuition,’ says Lappin. Like the young French-Canadian woman who revealed to her: ‘I hated the winters, hated my job and I didn’t know what to do with myself, so I opened a map, closed my eyes, and put my finger on a spot, saying to myself, whatever happens, I will go there!’ She moved to a village in eastern Crete, Greece where she settled down and raised a family. Or the Australian woman who followed photos she had seen in a magazine to a tiny Italian village, where she now lives and works as a guide.

The strangest things can call to us

‘Detours, car breakdowns, casual invitations or, in earlier centuries, shipwrecks are common circumstances in which travellers get waylaid in places that hold the unsuspected spiralling of destiny,’ writes Lappin. Also, as she can attest, objects from childhood can have a similar effect. Her father’s lucky Roman coin exercised a magic of its own, she writes, and led her from Tennessee, USA to Rome, Italy (where she continues to live more than thirty years later).

For others, notes Lappin, the mere name of a place – Montmartre, Innisfree, Congo, Sunset Boulevard – has the power to draw them to it. It may sound mystical, even bizarre, to talk about a place having a soul, but this was obvious to many of our earliest thinkers. In the ancient world, Lappin tells us, the soul (or spirit) of place – the ‘genius loci’ – was believed to come from an intelligence in the landscapes or buildings that interacted with all the beings held there.

Using ‘questions of place’ to guide you to your best place

Lappin encourages us to ask these questions of ourselves and, in asking them, to ‘listen for the constant conversation going on between ourselves and our environment which may have more impact on our health and well-being than we can possibly imagine’.

  • Do you see patterns in the places that have attracted you?
  • Are there cities or homes that have nourished or depleted you?
  • How do you feel in the setting where you are currently living?
  • How can you enhance your awareness of your surroundings and of the genius loci (the soul or spirit of the place) operating there?
  • What would it be like to find the place where you finally feel at home?
  • And how might you set out to discover it?

Lappin considers: ‘Places inhabit us just as we inhabit them.’ What do you think?

Environment may have more impact on our well-being than we can possibly imagine

Have you ever felt inexplicably drawn – or not – to a place? Where has your intuition led you? What are your experiences? We’d love to know, really! We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

First published on Expat Nest.

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