It’s funny how a change in geography can alter your perspective on something you’re well acquainted with.
My places of residence within Whitehorse had always been above the Alaska Highway — first Hillcrest, then Granger. But that changed in the fall of 2009 when I rented out a room in a small bungalow on Cook Street in downtown Whitehorse.
Looming high over my abode, the Whitehorse clay cliffs finally forced me to give them the reverence that seems so obviously deserved now. I don’t know why it was my move downtown that forced me to come to terms with their powerful majesty. After all, even when I wasn’t living there, I spent a lot of time in the shadow of the clay cliffs, which gave me plenty of opportunity to cast a glance upwards and say to myself, “They’re kind of awesome, eh?”
But I didn’t. Instead, I more-or-less ignored them.
And even though I only lived on Cook Street briefly, I have been keenly aware of the clay cliffs ever since. What’s more, I now make a point of incorporating them into my life whenever I can. They are one of my top destinations for a good dag walk, and when it comes to peacefully contemplating life while overlooking the downtown core, the clay cliffs have no equal.
In the winter, the headlights of lethargic cars glow like bulbs and pierce the capital city’s darkness from atop the cliffs; in the summer the long hours of daylight seem provide Whitehorse with a dusty swagger. But regardless of the diverse views the seasons provide, one thing remains constant — when sitting up there, gazing into our little river valley, I can’t help but think, “This is my town.”
And this is significant for me because when I first moved back to Whitehorse in November 2008 I did not feel that way. I felt like a stranger.
The upshot of this is that moving downtown and experiencing a shift in perspective re: the clay cliffs was a key ingredient in helping me feel settled in my own hometown.
What nags at me is the question of what other things I am taking for granted in much the same way as I took the cliffs for granted. How much richer would my life be if I was able to just see certain things in a different light?
It was a change of location that precipitated my newfound appreciation for the clay cliffs, but it is not feasible to move all over town I hopes of having a similar epiphany.
So instead I remind myself that habitual ways of thinking (or not thinking) about things are restricting. A welcome new perspective is just around the corner if I’m willing to approach the world with fresh eyes. I cannot always physically change the location of my home, but my mental habitat sometimes needs to be flipped. Hopefully this realization is half the battle.