Sunday, May 19, 2013

Why I Love Oxford


Every city has a unique feeling - a general atmosphere that permeates everything within it. It's something that you feel just being there - something exuded from everyone who lives there, every building standing tall, and every tangible and non-tangible thing in between. It's why New York feels different than Sedona. Why Chicago feels different than Miami. It's just a special feeling that characterizes that city - a unique personality of that area.

I think this feeling is what makes people fall in love with certain cities and feel disconnected from others. The closer the atmosphere and personality of a city is to your own character and philosophy, the more you feel connected to it. The further it is from yours, the more disenchanted you feel from it.

Oxford has always been a special city for me. It's one of those rare cities that just seems to fit with me.

Me and my baby enjoying the campus.

Before we came here, I told Lauren how much I loved it. I tried explaining to him that it's nothing specific about the city. It's not the food or restaurants, the landmarks or general scenery. It's everything in between. It's that feeling. I've always been able to see and feel what the heart of Oxford is. It's something that someone else might innocently miss. But for me, it's a louder than life personality that I feel a strong connection to.

Exeter College - where I spent my time studying at Oxford.

Oxford is a beautifully peaceful yet boldly inspiring city. It's a place where history and literature hang in the air and seem to surround and sing to you. It's a place that has been home to so many monumental events and figures that you can't help but feel like something else big is happening here every moment. You can't help but feel like you should - and can - be doing something amazing, too. It inspires you to reach, to dream, to strive. And not just because of it's history, but because of it's setting and atmosphere.

Gargoyle designs with Radcliff Camera in the background.

There is a special rawness and authenticity to Oxford that sets it apart from other places I've been. It's a place writers and poets have drawn inspiration from for centuries (where Lewis Carroll came up with the story for Alice in Wonderland, where J.R.R. Tolkein and C.S. Lewis talked about Narnia and Lord of the Rings over beer in pubs, where Phillip Pullman sat under a pine tree and worked on His Dark Materials... the list goes on and on). I think the reason so many writers are inspired here is because it's a city that opens you up. It's a city where you can't run from authenticity. You can't hide from truth. You can't ignore the inspiration and dreams that just hang in the air. Instead of rushing around trying to do one thing after the next, it's a city that invites you to slow down and open yourself up to what you can become - to look inside yourself and find a dream you want to pursue, a virtue you want to embody, a path you want to take that allows you to be more than you thought possible.

And to top it all off, the city has a beautifully surreal feeling to it. The botanical gardens are a wonderland. The architecture opens your imagination and connects you to the thousands of people who have stood there before you. The stone roads, the gargoyle towers, the walled-off courtyards... they all send your imagination and wonderment into a thousand different directions. If you'll let them.

People often quote the poet Matthew Arnold for his description of Oxford. He called it the "city of dreaming spires." To me, that's always what it will embody. A place with dreams that reach to the sky. A place with history and architecture that are simultaneously the past, the present and the future. A place where you are simply inspired.

1 comment:

  1. You´ve studied at Oxford you say, yet you wrote: "And not just because of it's history, but because of it's setting and atmosphere."
    Other than that, I liked reading this!