Looking for that Good Place

by Kevin Carrel Footer

Many of us are looking for that good place, that place where we can rest without stagnating, reside without collapsing, stay put without betraying ourselves.

Many of us, true to our nomadic origins, have wandered since birth, whether geographically or spiritually. If you are one of those, then you know that whatever you leave behind goes with you — a sort of tinker’s carriage laden with odd pieces: a blue ribbon from a spelling competition, a recording you once danced to, a wounded heart, assorted calluses.

The past cannot be left behind; it just rattles along beside.

But what makes that good place we search for and how do we get there?

How many of us cherish the dream of a place in the country or at the seashore, as if such places will bring us the centeredness we somehow lack? We imagine ourselves at home in that house with a view to open fields or whose porch gives onto the soft sand. In these dreams, life becomes a sunset, a static vision, an oasis that flutters on the horizon.

But the good place lies within.

There’s no need to wander any more. It’s a question of staying quiet and turning inward. It’s alternately fascinating and terrifying to face what one might drag from within, and you can go years — or lifetimes — putting it off.

But I believe that the world is generous, that it is like an enormous board game where the clues you need to go on are scattered under sofas and in the crooks of trees. They wait for those who do not rush by. Revelations, in the end, often go to those who need them.

The only oasis is the one that is hardest to find and hold; only when we make a home for ourselves within ourselves can we find succor.

How much of human history is written in the fruitless search for salvation in other lands, in empires, in blood? How much foolishness has been promised around the bend, without acknowledging either the innate splendor or the desolation of life, which, like a whiff of vapor in a swift wind, is soon dissolved into the universe.

The good place, a place to stay for a while, is nearby. It is a temporary refuge, a small place of repose before beginning our wanderings again. It cannot keep us from the storms, but it can ensure that when they come we will step out into them calmly, certain that the good place will come along wherever the tempest drags us.

The good place is ours to keep.

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Originally published in The Sunday Morning Muse at kevincarrelfooter.com. Sign up here>