"Learning to live and living to learn"
It is particularly important in these trying times to have a bolt-hole to which you can retreat when you need to review, and perhaps revise, your perspective. I notice that this is important to Lily, (the dog who must be adored). When the temperature rises beyond the comfortable, she retreats to a step, half-way up the stairs, where she can stretch out and “cool the jets”. But when the anxiety levels flame red, and the warning overload claxon sounds, there is no better place than in the front passenger seat of the car. The car doesn’t even have to move but once that door closes, her demeanor resembles that of a Tibetan monk on “the path to awakening”.
My happy place is my study, or office if you prefer. It’s about a three-minute walk from the house, on the opposite side of the river and at the far end of old English village where some of the buildings predate the French Revolution. In fact, when the foundations of largest residential building, which was at one time a hostelry of sorts, were laid, Voltaire was a young oily tick in short pants and Catherine-the-Great was but a twinkle in her father’s eye.
Those of a more Freudian persuasion, (and I’m not one of those), might explain the need for a happy place as evidence of a need to regress to the womb. I’m not convinced by this hypothesis; its far less complicated than that. Each morning, I walk down the corridor, insert key in door and burst through breathing in deeply as I do so. For a moment I hesitate and consume that divine odor. If you were with me, you might ask, “What is that smell?” I would have no hesitation in my response; “That, my dear friend, is the rich aroma of sanity”.
Once through the door, I drink in the array of flipcharts positioned around the room like the heads of wisdom (Moai), on Easter island, waiting to assist me in my efforts to revise my perspective or generate new frames of reference which will help me cope with the craziness that exists “out there”. Beyond these walls, out there across the irrational, celebrity-obsessed, flash-desire-driven, culture I can’t help but feel under siege and so I must pull back to the safety of my redoubt, at least from time to time.
In the corner of my happy place there is a soft chair which is covered in dog hairs. That’s where Lily sometimes sits quietly, for about an hour at least, watching me furiously move from one flip chart to another, like some demented 19th century painter with an ear infection, trying to reduce the complexities of human nature to a four-box model. She can only manage an hour before she starts to pine for the front passenger seat of the car.
Key Learning: If you don’t have a happy place then get one and make sure you spend time there.