They Exist: Here’s One of Mine

If you’re my age, you probably recognize the name Carlos Castaneda. He wrote several books starting with The teachings of Don Juan; a Yaqui way of knowledge, in 1968. I was attending Arizona State University at the time it was published and the book, along with those that followed, fascinated me, probably for the wrong reasons. However, one thing that has stayed with me ever since is what follows:

“Places of power is a very interesting ecological phenomenon, which has a great significance for spiritual work. This term was introduced by Mexican Indian Juan Matus, described in the books of Carlos Castaneda. Places of power are geographic zones, sometimes large, sometimes small, which possess energy fields that are of significance for people.” (

As I’ve grown older, my awareness and use of places of power had strtengthened. If you reflect, I bet you can recognize spots that make you feel something…Extra energy, more clarity, a sense of well-being, or greater creativity. When I was writing my first young adult fantasy and working at the Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library, sometimes I would find myself stuck and unsure what was to happen next. Every time I was mired in a plot hole, driving past the Edgecomb Pottery Works sparked an answer.

When we lived in Hartland, I had two such places. One was standing by the kitchen sink, generally washing or drying dishes (I still like doing so, even though the same energy flow doesn’t exist in Waterville). The other was our back yard, particularly while weeding the vegetable garden.

I was a bit worried when we moved to Waterville, but I’ve found another place of power, one that many might find surprising. You may remember that a closer access to the Alfond Youth Center’s pools was one of the reasons we moved here. I started participating in a 45 minute aquatic exercise program in the heated therapy pool. The pandemic put that on hold just as I was becoming used to the program.

When it resumed, most of the regulars (we generally had12-18 in a session), didn’t come back. In fact for some time, there were just three of us. When the virus case numbers jumped, the class was suspended, but an open exercise session became available at nine, so I started using that hour to build on what we had been doing, coupled with adapting exercises prescribed by my physical therapist. When the regular class resumed, I started doing both. That’s where I am these days, spending almost ten hours weekly exercising in 90 degree water.

The pool is my new place of power. I’ve come up with numerous short story ideas in it, several of which have been published. Right now, I’m using pool time to write ahead on a YA novella that I hope will be the last piece in an anthology I’m calling Hardscrabble Kids. It will contain two novellas and a dozen or so shorter pieces, all featuring Maine kids in unusual or magical realism situations. I’m lucky to have some of the students at Messalonskee High as my beta readers.

The story I’m writing now is challenging. It started out as a teen boy with fairly severe OCD, but has now morphed into a girl who is a junior cross country runner in 1969. Part of the plot involves her anger and frustration with the way males treat her She’s so tired of every accomplishment being given the tag line-’for a girl.’ Remembering what exactly life was like back then is challenging. I keep having to research what was available then. Looking through my high school yearbook made me realize how draconian dress codes were…Not a single photo of a female in pants. I’m also pushing the envelope by introducing a character not publicly recognized back then, at least not in small town Maine.

I’ve included some photos of my current place of power. I hope you have one, or will find one soon.

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2 Responses to They Exist: Here’s One of Mine

  1. I’m intrigued by this places of power concept, John. On reflection, I have a few of my own. Unfortunately, none of them involve exercising while in 90 degree water (which sounds dreamy) but my places of power are inspiring nonetheless. Nice post to start the week – thanks!

  2. Sandra Neily says:

    This was great John. And am sooooo impressed with your 10 hours a week! And your search to find a place in your new (ish) home. And during the pandemic as well. I think mine is the woods, the real woods. And the smell of it. Yup. Quite sure. And thanks!

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