Last night, I watched If These Walls Could Sing, a documentary about Abbey Road Studios, on Disney+ and had an absolutely ball.
What resonated more than anything was the number of musicians who spoke about Abbey Road Studios with a sense of spiritual awe, as though the space itself is a portal to where creativity itself lives.
I’ve written previously about thin spaces, physical locations where the threshold between the physical realm and the divine realm seems thinner. It’s my belief these places emit a certain feeling, an energy you can pick up on. Sometimes they’re churches or temples, other times they’re recording studios or theaters.
I’ve encountered a few thin spaces in my life, most notably the summer camp where I was camper and eventually a counselor and the apartment where I lived my last two years in college. Part of what made these places so special was the history surrounding them.
With summer camp, the land itself had been donated to the Episcopal church during the Depression as a place for inner-city youth to experience nature. The camp had a rich history of providing spiritual sustenance to hundred of kids. This created an energy on the property, a sense that it was a special, sacred place. Further enhancing this energy was the culture generated by campers like myself, who would go on to become counselors to the next generation of kids coming to the property for the first time.
302 Kiefaber, my college apartment, had a similar vibe. Passed on by a group of upperclassmen, 302 had previously functioned as a communal space, a venue for parties and concerts and late-night music making. I’d often come home to find friends playing music in the living room or actors rehearsing a play in the kitchen. I wrote short stories to the glow of Christmas lights while my roommate fiddling with electronic music on his Midi keyboard. 302 itself seemed a factory for all kinds of creativity.
While some spaces are innately thin, I think it’s possible for us to wear at the fabric between physical and metaphysical spaces. Any place can become a thin space, with enough creative and spiritual work. The more time we spend trying to tunnel our way to the other side, the thinner the space becomes.
Like people, places carry energy. Walk into a space like the one where The Beatles recorded “A Day in the Life,” chances are you’re going to feel the weight of all the creative history, emanating from wherever ideas come from.