Learning to See the People in the Places

Learning to See the People in the Places

By Mike Christie

Throughout the course of this class, in its short but productive time span, I think the most satisfying thing I’ve experienced is the intentionality it has forced me to have in getting outside of the norm. When I first moved to Spokane from Detroit, nearly every weekend I was out exploring some part of the Inland Northwest. But over the course of three years, I fell back into a routine that limited my motivation to seek that which went against the regularity I had constructed. This class helped me remind myself that this place, the Northwest in all its beauty and openness, is a place I’m truly fortunate to reside in. You forget those things from time to time when you simply exist rather than live life and seek out the particulars we often overlook.

Also, with travel being something that is often much more fun to do in partnership with others, this class led me to be able to ask a wonderful girl to be my girlfriend in a beautiful setting, and has also led to us doing adventurous activities together early on in our relationship that may have otherwise gone overlooked. Now, because of starting out our relationship with some of those more adventurous type dates, it helps us make that a priority for future things we do together. And with being someone who loves seeing new places and exploring, that’s exciting to me.

I think the explorative focus of this class has also been what led to me escaping a bit of the seasonal doldrums I had been feeling throughout December and early January. This is not simply tied to the places I have seen, but also a result of contacting and talking with human beings I would have otherwise never have met. Like Gregg from the Christmas store in Coeur d’Alene. There’s something so beautiful and empowering that happens when you listen to somebody talk about what they are passionate about. To watch their face light up out of excitement or an awareness of their own competence in something. It helps you realize that there are things in your life that you can feel the same way about. The same thing happened with Kevin Kilgore in the Manito greenhouse from my afternoon in Spokane story. Watching his eyes look around at the plants he cares for as he talked about them was such a reassuring thing to witness. People give themselves to certain things, those things vary drastically, but through their variety comes the sustainability of the life and culture in which we live in. Through doing travel journalism, you see those passions in people first hand.

This is perhaps the most important insight I could offer to someone who is starting this class. Humans who we don’t normally associate with sometimes are scary. Often times the person behind the counter, the person doing the maintenance somewhere, they are people we often overlook. We see them simply as cogs to the mechanism of the bigger thing we are experiencing. But when you choose to give yourself and your reporting to their stories, when you see their humanity, the pulse that drives them; you see the situation to which they are tied to so much more beautifully because you see the life, of it the driving force behind it, you see its sustaining pulse. There’s nothing quite like that. Seek it out. places are interesting, but they are simply a sliver of reality. Human being are these complex and enchanting stories. Covers often left unopened, but when we enter into the reality tied to the life of someone else, we being to see the larger and more profound happenings that are tied to the places we interact with.

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