One New Place was born in 2016 when I was recovering from a bad accident, and my world had become very small—an infinite loop between my mom’s house and the hospital where I did various therapies to get me walking and moving again. Some days I never got out of the four walls of the house. I missed my old life, which was full of travel and activity.
Then one evening I found a way to get it back. I went out for my “practice” walk from the hospitality house where I stayed while at the hospital. Although I usually turned right when I left the house, the same direction as I went to the hospital, on this particular evening I turned left and shuffled with my cane up a slight incline in the road. When I got to the top, what I saw took my breath away: Spread out before me was a little league baseball field—an ordinary field, not special in any way—but I gasped because 1). It was a surprise; I had no idea it was there, and, 2). It was beautiful in the twilight with an overview of the town below and the mountains in the distance.
In that microsecond, I felt a spark in my brain. I recognized this spark—it was the same spark I felt when I was traveling and saw something new. In the nanosecond before my judging, cynical mind intruded and diminished my discovery (“It’s only a stupid little small-town baseball field”), my brain had responded to this new place with the same delight as when it saw the Alps for the first time, or Playa Matapalo in Costa Rica, or Petra, or a baobab tree in South Africa. At that moment, my world, which had become so small, became a little bigger again, and my mind, which had become resigned to its limitations, opened up and felt the power and possibility of exploring again.
That spring, as I was recovering, I decided to make it a daily practice to see One New Place. My places were not notable tourist destinations. They were alleys and community parks, and the dead-end roads on the way back and forth to the hospital. But it was a start of my world opening up again, and me reclaiming my identity as an “explorer.”
The practice dropped as I struggled to integrate back into my old life in Washington, D.C., but with the turn of the new year into 2018, faced with another year of limited physical and financial means to travel in the old way, and tired of feeling trapped and sorry for myself, I decided to make One New Place a daily practice again. This is the blog of my adventures, as I make my world bigger One Day at a Time.