My Shangri-La

JoAnna Bennett

JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group

27 August 2020

In the 1933 novel, Lost Horizon by James Hilton, Hugh Conway finds inner peace, love, and a sense of purpose in Shangri-La. After having that experience, he decides to leave. And while we may not know if he ever makes his way back to Shangri-La after his departure, I must admit to not caring. Why did he leave in the first place?

A Long Drive

I took a long drive this past weekend with my good friend and my kids in tow. We headed four hours north to a picturesque town in Vermont. As we ascended the part of America known as New England, we noticed the verdant texture change. What started as mainly red maple and black birch trees slowly transitioned into sugar maple and pine trees. The air got lighter as we were ascending in altitude and latitude. We sang songs. We talked our hearts out. Some of us napped. We laughed a lot. We randomly and cheerfully yelled, “It’s vacation day!” And we smiled from ear to ear. The entire getaway was calming and peaceful for our minds, our bodies, and our souls. It was one of those getaways that sends you home feeling refreshed and ready to take on anything. Was this our Shangri-La?

Not a Place, But a Peace

When I think about the location of my Shangri-La, I’m baffled. I love the woods. I love the beach. I love my house. I love tiny cottages. I love penthouses in high-rise buildings. I love the city. I love the country. I’m sure I could pick one place to live forever. But the longer I’m alive, the more I realize I don’t want to. Existing in different places gives me a different perspective and makes me feel different feelings.

I don’t think Shangri-La is a place. I think it’s a feeling of peace, love, and a sense of purpose. We can’t go on our life’s journey hoping to find a place that makes us whole. We’ll never find that mystical spot. We can however find a sense of peace that can make us whole. And while it may be harder to dig deep and look within ourselves for the answers, it’ll be a lot less difficult than seeking a location for our peace that doesn’t exist anywhere tangible.

My Shangri-La is me, wherever I may be.