A week ago when I visited Boulder, I was struck once again by how much a geographic location it is, wedged as it is up next to the Rocky Mountains. I can complain about how it isn't like I remember it. It is as I remember, even if there aren't the same stores or streets have been moved or new ones put into their place. When I go out into the thin air that feels and smells so very different from the briny breezes of Oakland I fill my lungs with the way it used to be. The way it is. And what I feel is they way I used to be.
I found myself feeling very self-conscious about the music pouring into my head through the earbuds I had shoved into my head. As the loud rock and roll roared, I heard the voice of my once upon a time therapist who encouraged me to run without headphones, without music. I should take that time to sense the world around me: get in touch with the sounds as well as the sights and smells. Sensing is what she wanted me to do. Back in the days when I ran the streets and trails of Boulder on a regular basis, that advice was something that I took to heart. I listened to the traffic and the children playing and the wind in the trees and the voices I heard all around me. It certainly kept me safe. I could hear the bicyclist coming up behind me or the lady with the stroller's thanks for going around her. I heard the world and I learned from it. But I missed the music. Not that there isn't music to be found in all that sound, but I missed the feeling of being in my own movie, complete with a soundtrack of my favorite songs.
Listening to those favorite songs as I looked out on my favorite sights filled me with the sense of belonging, that feeling of home. Once again I was caught up in the magic that some have called Niwot's Curse: "People seeing the beauty of this valley will want to stay, and their staying will be the undoing of the beauty." This is what one of the native inhabitants told the white folks who came to settle and mine and farm and undo their land. I have always been entranced by this corner of the planet, probably because I was born here, but also because it is unique. There is no place like it on the globe. I say this with complete hope and expectation of being contradicted. Everyone who has ever looked out on their little corner of the earth and breathed in the air and felt the love of the land will tell me that I may be wrong.
I'm not, but you can feel free to discuss among yourself why I'm wrong. I won't hear it, because I've got my headphones on.