Saturday, August 08, 2009

More Places

I'm following up on yesterday's post now that I've had some time to think a little more about how I interpreted Wim Wenders' Princeton speech. So, how does the place you grow up, or the place you choose to live, turn you into part of its story by shaping you as a person?

I believe your environment can be so important to how you feel, think, and live. It's not all-important, of course — your mental state and attitude, your health, your family and friends, and many other factors affect your life as well. But if I hadn't grown up in Houston, how would I be different? If I hadn't been an immigrant to this country with strong ties back to Europe, how would I be different? If I had moved to another city for college, how would that have changed me? If I decide to move to another state or country in the future, how will that change me?

Wim Wenders is right, in the sense that every place is an entity that exerts its influence over its inhabitants. When you watch a movie with a strong sense of place, you can see how the characters in the story are shaped and affected by the city or area in which they live. That's why I sometimes get mental chills when I think about some of the homogeneous suburban shopping areas around Houston — bland, drab strip malls that are so devoid of a sense of place that they could be anywhere in this huge city or state. And that's also why I am sometimes intimidated by the areas in Houston that are the opposite — they are so infused with a sense of place that I feel out of place sometimes; I didn't grow up in these neighborhoods, I don't know my way around, and I don't know where all the little shops and bars and restaurants are tucked away.

So, I am trying to allow myself to become part of these places. I am trying to learn my way around and try more new shops and restaurants. I am letting this neighborhood I now call home show me its story.

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