Thursday, October 2, 2008

Intentional Creation to Reduce Stress

When I first moved to the Washington DC area in the mid-80s, I was deeply unhappy. Suddenly I found myself in an anonymous condo, driving endless miles on four-lane highways to work, disconnected from family and friends. The anonymity and apparent meaninglessness of my new life, bothered me so much that I began to have stomach problems, back aches, soreness in my joints, and general low-level depression.
I think many people suffer from similar maladies for similar reasons (check out the National Geographic documentary Stress: Portrait of a Killer). Our fast-paced, disconnected lives are killing us. And given this, perhaps one of the most important things we can do for ourselves, our families, and our world is to create Place.

Over the last 15 years, I've found ways of living in this area without going crazy or feeling depressed or frantic. Most of the ways I've found have to do with creating Place. We live in a small townhouse four blocks from where we walk to work in DelRay. Both our townhome and our offices are Places, as is our home in Loudoun, where we go most weekends. We don't commute. We have a lot of friends. We feel part of our communities. We spend a lot of time outside. And none of this was by accident.
My whole world has been intentionally created to give me a sense of connection in a time and area where it is so easy to feel disconnected and overwhelmed. Only when I lose consciousness for brief periods of time, start living without being aware of the sky, the dog, the trees, the people around me, that I slip back into aches and pains and exhaustion.

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