What's the few places on earth that you feel at home in? It doesn't have to be your country of birth/origin, but somewhere else where you might have traveled to or stayed for some time.
Out of all the cities I visited, these are the top 3 cities in the world that I felt at home in or inspired by:
🌴 Ubud for restoration
⛩ Kyoto for inspiration
👾 Iceland for otherworldliness
I find my soul's rest in Ubud. I can't say the same about other parts of Bali, and Ubud feels like a class of its own even amongst the other beautiful towns/cities within Bali. There's some big spiritual magic going on there, with all the tomb-raider-esque stone temples with mean-looking statues hidden in thick, moist jungles and rushing rivers, prayers and rituals going on multiple times a day, and big temple events every month or so. The people are gentle, friendly and welcoming like the ocean welcomes rain. Yoga is big here, and lots of healthy vegan food options. Sometimes Ubud feels like one giant health spa resort as a city, but in a good way. I wrote so much about Ubud already during my retreat there end of last year - the sounds, beauty, and the awesome.
Japan continues to amaze and inspire me. In particular, Kyoto. Just being here I feel so much at peace, in sync with the people and values, and inspired by the quality of life and living. Something about this place really spoke to me deeply to the core. Something about the traditions that's been loyally and quietly passed on generations after generations. Something about their devotion to craftsmanship that's tear-jerkingly heart-moving. Something about how 100-year businesses are sustained not (just) out of profit, but as a service to society. Something about the people and how they conduct themselves around others - reserved yet well-mannered, stoic yet considerate, traditional yet creative - and perhaps seeing a teeny bit of myself in them (*humblebrag). Something about how walking among the heritage houses of Higashiyama felt like walking home.
If you want to know what an alien planet might look like, try Iceland. I know it's a country, not a city. But with a a total population of around 340, 000, it's kind of like a small city. I love feeling for the first time, how heart-beatingly alive the earth was - burping, hissing, moving at every turn. Iceland's spiritual monuments are its vast, eccentric, marvellous nature. It's rock and mountains are its cathedrals, it's waterfalls are it's rivers of baptism, it's eerie moss-covered lava fields the very image of a cold hell. And if I had a religion, nature would come close to one, and Iceland would be the mecca of it. Just being here jolts me out of my indifference to life, as if I'm on an alien planet. The cold, the otherworldliness, the open-hearted people, makes me feel right at home with my own weird little quirks and eccentricities.
Just today, one of my favourite writers on 200wad @daniellucas posted something and this few lines really resonated deeply and couldn't be more apt for this post:
"The embrace of a city, with its literal arms, a community ready and willing to absorb me. There’s a lightness emanating from within me now that this city has brought out. Whether through my own journey here, or via the atmosphere, there is no denying the truth: I am happier than I have been in years."
I imagine, if and when I get a chance to stay in either of these 3 places, I would too feel that way.
Happier than I have been in years.