I roll my eyes every time I start an "On Being" podcast, even though I'm grateful for it and am inevitably glad I listened. Some podcasts & hosts are almost too podcast-y, you know? The production values are slightly too polished, the voices a little too smooth. It's like a schtick sometimes, like a schmoozy Rat Pack Vegas number: they hit every single beat you expect them to and leave no room for chance. But my biases against “professionalism” are my own cross to bear, so I barrel through.
This week Krista Tippett interviewed another Irish poet (she loves Irish poets), Michael Longley, and near the end they had this conversation about revisiting familiar places:
KT: I want to ask you also about the mystery of place. And so, Carrigskeewaun is a cottage in County Mayo that you and your wife and family have gone back to it, I believe, for over many years. And you said something wonderful about the beauty of going back to the same place over and over again, that you notice more and more. It’s not that you exhaust a place; that you go more deeply into it.
MR. LONGLEY: Yes, it’s inexhaustible. Mind you, it is very beautiful, and it’s very remote. And we’ve been going there since 1970. And we carried our children through the river and through the channel, and now they come back over — such a compliment to my wife and me that the children want to spend time with us. And they come back, and they now bring their children, our grandchildren on their shoulders through this really quite tough terrain. Every time I leave, I think, “Well, there can be no more Carrigskeewaun poems. I’ve exhausted it.” But there always are poems, and the place is inexhaustible.
I mean, you know this — the phrase, “Travel broadens the mind.” We do quite a bit of traveling. But I think it also shallows the mind. But going back to the same place in a devoted way and in a curious way is a huge part of my life. And I’ll be going there even when they have to push me in a wheelchair.
Always interview Irish poets, is the point of this story. Also: a place is inexhaustible. I just like that frame of mind, the idea that love is the groove you wear into a thing.