There is a special place that I have returned to whenever I have had the chance over the years. I don't know if you have had the experience of coming to a certain geographical location, and immediately being filled with a deep sense of peace and internal harmony. This place is like that for me. Moreover, it just feels right, as if I am meant to be here. I have a bond with the land. Each path, each vista, is a familiar friend, and welcomes me back although it might have been years since my last visit.
The place I am writing about is Banff in the Canadian Rockies. More specifically, it is not just the town of Banff, or even the spectacular Banff National Park that has this effect on me. It is The Banff Centre, formerly called The Banff Centre for Fine Arts.
The Banff Centre is located up on the side of Tunnel Mountain above the frenzy of tourists and hotels down below in the town. There are visual artists' studios, and musicians, and writing programs. Readings, dance performances, free jazz concerts, galleries, and lectures. And conferences of various sorts. Mostly, I have come here to attend conferences related to my profession and work.
Every time I come here, I get a little glimpse of my lost self. That lost self, the creative me, is elusive. She imagines herself holed up in one of the little artist huts, painting. Or writing. Or just detaching from the greedy teeth and needy maw of work, and having the time and solitude to think and reflect. As I walk through the beauty of the quiet grounds surrounded by spectacular peaks and breathing in the scent of pine trees, she flits into view briefly bringing a surge of of hope and possibility. And then I am sitting in my next meeting or conference session, and she is gone again.
My lost self. The self my busy dutiful life doesn't have time for. Most of the time, it is easy to forget that self in the busy whirl of daily tasks and obligations. But when I come here to The Banff Centre, I discover that she is still inside, wishing and hurting.