Stadtluft macht frei (‘city air makes you free’)*
Dating from the late Middle Ages, this German adage is suggesting that a different environment makes all the difference to who we can be, specifically when it came to moving around within the stultifying social order of that period.
Environments are all important to our development, as M. C. Richards proffers here:
The child takes in his world as if it were food. And his world nourishes or starves him. Nothing escapes his thirst; secrets are impossible. He identifies with his surroundings, and they live with him unconsciously … .**
It’s been measured how the number of questions a child asks reduces as they grow older and are force-fed the answers to questions they hadn’t asked.
I’m not sure how much this may play a part in what we’re interested in as we grow older, but we certainly come to enjoy some environments over others, with all their “fauna and flora.” What is enervating may be enriching for us and vice versa.
Understanding there are some environments that feed us more than others is critical to growing as true and fulsome as we have the potential for: something I see extending throughout our years.
It is possible to identify both the ones that feed us the most and those that starve us.
There’s another element to this, as identified by Erwin McManus:
the world within you will create the world around you^.
Not only are we fed by our environments, but, when we are living faithfully to who we are and what we have, we are able to affect change on our environments. Our enriching ones will respond the most, but even enervating ones will benefit from the person who has turned up with their bespoke alacrity.
Today is yet another day for developing our values, talents and energies, and playing with ways of making these available to others.
*From Richard Sennett’s Building and Dwelling;
**From M. C. Richards’ Centering;
^From Erwin McManus’ The Way of the Warrior.