They say a "Happy Place" is one that comes from a childhood place or memory, when the blights of the world weren't so heavy. My own childhood wasn't as carefree as others may have been but I still had my sanctuary spot. Mine was an oak tree that sat at the corner of our property. At an early age I learned to climb and more so developed a love of heights, a desire for them. I used to sit atop the roof and dream and release and wrap myself in the pure isolation of it. When use of the ladder was revoked, I took to the trees. The oak was my spot and my spot alone. The first foothold was a knot/split that looked as though the tree was almost two and then changed its mind. The rest of the grabbing spots came so obvious and inviting, twisting around the truck like an ancient spiral staircase. The steps finally settled in a spot where two limbs jutted out from the trunk in a V shaped seat witha broken limb at just the right height for leaning against sideways. The spot was maybe 12-14 feet up but it felt like a throne in my own personal kingdom. From here I could see most of the property, over the house and, with a twist of my head, the whole of the driveway winding up to it. This was my spot, where I belonged.
Once my brilliant idea of stapling a cushion to the tree to ease my butt pain was met with a serious lack of enthusiasm, a conversation about destruction of property, and a grand warning of climbing a dead tree. I argued the latter part, but there was no denying it. A simple scan of the tree line revealed the truth of it. My mighty oak stood stark against the other slender trees, branches barren, bark ashen, a beacon of a bygone age. Surrounded by more common trees such as pine and cypress, it made you wonder just how old that tree was…how long had it been dead or dying? The other trees encircled it, almost hesitant to touch, birds did not land on it, squirrels did not frolic on it, nothing grew at its roots, and the only thing I ever found on it was the occasional caterpillar…usually the painful orange ones, and the random petrified acorn. It didn't matter, I was not dissuaded. I acknowledged the fact but was never concerned by it. I tested my branches when adventuring to the upper levels, many times having to back track after a branch cracked and splintered to the ground. Even as a young child, my mind was clouded with a small darkness and I was not afraid of falling. The risk of death was worth what I felt in that tree. It was my tree, my sanctuary. Here I just 'was' and that was okay.
Many times I argued the felling of it, and many times was able to put it off. But as I grew into the shaded area between child and adult, and my lack of presence became more frequent, one day I came home to a stump. It had been deemed a serious hazard and finally felled. I remember something inside me breaking apart, splitting at the seams, as I sat on that stump and tried to feel it again. Feel what I felt when I was in my spot, the birds singing around me, the squirrels stopping curiously to tilt their heads at me, the hum of the real every day world going on beneath me like a note that's just an octave lower…out of reach, untouchable. I tried to hang onto it but it faded, became fuzzy…..
The other night, as I lay in bed trying desperately to sleep, failing to silence the white noise in my head…I thought of that tree. It started as such a small thing, but suddenly grew and spread. And I felt that feeling again, even just ever so slightly, and it filled me with a calm I haven't felt in a long while. Better still, it quieted the noise, slowed down the grinding gears just long enough to allow me some rest…and I was able to awake without feeling immediately stressed and anxious. I have heard the saying "Go to your Happy Place" before, but never put much stock into it. I could never think of a place, struggled to imagine a fictional one. But it came to me when I needed it, revealed itself as it stepped out from the shadows of a forgotten memory. A misplaced victim of suppression. Now I am learning how to access it, trying just a little at a time to tap in when I want to. I like to think it will bring some relief, if not just from the pure distraction of it.
What's your Happy Place?