States of Mind

"I'm in a weird place right now."

We've all probably said that, or heard someone else say it, in our lifetimes. It's an odd phrase, when you think about it; to be, physically, in a strange location is one thing. But we know better than to take this phrase literally -- it refers, of course, to a state of mind.

I've always thought it interesting how geography works its way into our daily language. To say one is in a "weird place" in order to convey some kind of life-altering instability says a lot, I think, about how subtly place invades our consciousness. We are much more aware of where we are than we usually acknowledge.

And think, for a minute, about an actual State of Mind. A physical place that represents your consciousness. In reality, physical places are nothing more than fragments of that imagined place -- or, rather, the billions of imagined places in which each one of us lives. Assuming that we have the ultimate freedom to make all of our choices for ourselves, we live in the States of our Minds. We create our own rules, social structures, traditions, languages. Each one of us forms, throughout the course of life, our own culture. We build our personal geography.

If we live in the States of our Minds, what does this mean for the world around us? Our emotions, our values, our thoughts, our dreams -- how do all of these things translate into physical reality? Does a fence protect us or cage us in? Do streets speed us along or divide us from our neighbors? If we choose to live in the city, do we do so to become more connected, or to get lost in the crowd? Do we live in a lively place? A dangerous place? A mysterious place?

A weird place?

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