When I looked at the hotel for tonight on Google maps, I saw that it was only a block and a half from the Inner Harbor of Baltimore. Unfortunately, I had already posted from that spot. I considered waiting for another trip, but when I arrived and saw the snowy landscape, I decided to wander down and take another stroll.
After all, there’s value in revisiting familiar territory. There’s always more to learn. It’s true in art. In love. Certainly, in landscapes.
For instance, there was a statue I had missed on my first sitting. Feeling compassion for its bald head, I loaned it my hat for a minute. A woman passing laughed and said, “He would have liked that.”
Old Glory fluttered over Federal Hill Park.
Two benches caught my eye. First there was the wildly optimistic one.
And then, the bench that invited me with its bright colors. I sat on this one for a while.
The Inner Harbor is always an impressive view.
But today, it looked as if Banksy had just run by with cans of shaving cream.
In my mind, I kept coming back to the theme. Which was, in fact, the theme: coming back. How many times can one return to something before it grows stale? Before there’s not much left to glean? I think these Benched posts are running out of steam. I press on to reach 100, but often feel like I’m humming tunes I’ve picked up from previous musings.
Much like the carousel just off the harbor, covered up for the winter, sometimes revisiting familiar territory is a circular journey. It provides comfort in the familiar. A favorite book. The same spot for vacation. A church worship service.
No harm there. Until it becomes mindless repetition. Until it becomes simply a habit, yielding little more than a vague sense of safety in the recognizable. Mark Twain called this entrenched habit custom. And custom, he wrote, “is petrification; nothing but dynamite can dislodge it for a century.” That Twain – a jester with a point.
We don’t have to be trapped by our carousel of custom. If we walk away replenished from the encounter -- or better yet, changed by it, then it’s not truly circular. It moves us forward.
That’s where the rubber meets the road, at least for me. It’s about moving forward. Continuing the journey.
Even if sometimes I look back to where I’ve been.