How my love of Place turned into a love for People

People are exhausting. They are volatile, sensitive, destructive, selfish and just stressful to be around.

Heed the warnings of this 20-something sage. People are toxic.

As an only-child introvert, this was a pretty easy concept to label FACT and dismiss. I never really enjoyed the company of People. Why did it always seem like there was a crisis to be dealt with in the company of others? Whether it was your friend’s girlfriend sulking around the bar and ruining everybody’s vibe (what was her problem, anyway?) or an organization co-coordinator hyper-managing a project that you totally had covered, conclusively, you could pretty much say People suck.

At least I did.

And so I retreated to Places.

Places are rejuvenating. They are unique, magical, thrilling, each with their own story and meaning.

A Place is special, because it isn’t just a geographical location. A Place is what you make it. For me, one of my favorite Places is the sea, off the coast of British Columbia, where in 2014, I took on a 16 day sea kayaking circumnavigation.

Alex sea kayaking off the coast of Nootka Sound, BC - part of a 16 day/82 nautical mile circumnavigation of Nootka Island
Alex sea kayaking off the coast of Nootka Sound, BC – part of a 16 day/82 nautical mile circumnavigation of Nootka Island

My infatuation with the coast of B.C. is entirely experience based. This Place took such amazing care of me. I paddled all day, every day for several weeks and when I was tired, She took care of me. She offered me freshwater streams and waterfalls when I was thirsty, warned me when bad weather was approaching, and provided me with shelter on pebble beaches and in dewey forests. We were so in sync, this Place and I.

But you know what, I also knew what the hell I was doing.

I purified the water She gave me so I wouldn’t get sick. I checked the tide charts, observed wind patterns and half the time, I had to wake up at 3-5am in the morning to begin the day, so that I could avoid the worst of the paddling conditions. And after several days, pebble (ow) beaches and dewey forests aren’t really what you want to come home to after you’ve been soaked and salty all day.

So what, I romanticized it a bit? Sort of. Even though the conditions were difficult at times, I knew how to communicate with this Place and knew when I needed to make sacrifices. I respected her. B.C. and I are totally in love, but that wouldn’t be the case if I hadn’t known how to keep us in sync.

Relationships, whether they be with Places or People, are about sacrifices and respect.

Sure, People are exhausting. But there are a lot of Places, a lot of volatile, sensitive, destructive, stressful Places out there (Places that I’m deeply in love with) too. They are Places that require respect, skill and sacrifice to enjoy and to appreciate.

How irrational it is to get frustrated with B.C. for her inconvenient weather. Yet, how easy it would be to blame Pouty-Bar-Girlfriend for an inconvenience in my day (the party must go on, after all).

So, I get it. I don’t always have the communication skill to understand another Person’s tide chart, to observe their wind patterns, to catch the signs that I might need a little extra mental rain gear on this night out on the town. B.C. was obviously working some stuff out, making me wake up at 3 in the morning like that (seriously, WTF ocean).

People work stuff out the same way a Place does. It’s all about the homeostasis, man. That’s what makes us all unique, Beautiful People.

It’s pretty easy to fall head over heels for a Place because of its uniqueness, for its idiosyncrasies and eccentricity. Why is it so hard to love all People for the same?


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