We all have a place we can go to that immediately relaxes us. It might be a favourite room in your home, a park bench, a lawn chair on the edge of a dock, or a room in the basement. Whatever or where ever it is we unconsciously escape to it when our mind needs rest.
I stumbled upon my place of peace quite accidentally a number of years ago. There’s a walking route I often take through my neighbourhood, and while a change of scenery is always welcome I found myself automatically wandering, day after day, in this same direction. Sometimes I wouldn’t even notice where I was going until I looked up and there in front of me was my place of peace. It’s a swampy area in the midst of an affluent neighbourhood (another reason I started taking this route….I wanted to snoop at the rich houses) and it is largely ignored by most passing by.
This swampy bog-like area boasts huge old trees, leafless and scarred with numerous Woodpecker holes, moss covered rocks, and a variety of plant life that clearly sustains all kinds of water wild life. At any given time I can see families of ducks swimming, large tortoises slowly making their way to the water from the weeds….all accompanied by a symphony of bull frogs croaking their availability to prospective mates. It is a slice of nature in the middle of a bustling city and for those aware enough to actually see it in all its’ beauty, it’s a place of peace.
Upon arriving at my peaceful place I feel my shoulders relax and I become immediately aware of my conscious thoughts….thoughts that often surprise me. If there was anything nagging at me or worrying me that I had tucked neatly away from my conscious mind, it is now front and center but no longer as worrisome. Somehow during the 4 kilometre walk that brings me here my subconscious dug out those hidden issues and started ruminating in a non-stressful, non-invasive way, and suddenly the issues aren’t as overwhelming as I’d once thought. Problems are not solved by any means, from this simple walk, but their weight seems less of a burden and solutions start to appear. I love this place and I go there when I need uninterrupted time to let my mind wander, free of distraction. It is my therapy.
About 18 months ago I found myself visiting this place less and less. I no longer felt the peace I once had here and I missed it so. It was my solace and I wanted it back. I found new routes to walk but none brought me the peace I had felt in ‘my’ place and when visiting it one morning it hit me! Something in my place of peace had changed and it was several forced visits later that I would finally figure it out.
Water. Or rather, the lack of it. The water was gone.
Over the last 2 years our summers were unseasonably dry and hot, drying up this little swamp until all that remained was a muddy marsh that no longer resembled the happy habitat for ducks and tortoises and birds. The reeds all dried up, as did the plant life, and the remaining old trees no longer housed birds – they just stood empty, and the noisy sounds of water life were silent. The realization was startling. Not only had I totally missed the slow decline of this ecosystem, but I was completely unaware of its’ impact to my psyche.
Water not only created an environment that gave life to so many creatures, it also acted as therapist to anyone open enough to see beyond their own problems. Somehow gazing upon something as simple as a swamp and the life within it calms a weary mind. At least it did mine.
Maybe I simply read more into this place because I needed something or somewhere to go where I could think clearly, uncluttered and uninterrupted. Or maybe it just resonated at a time in my life when I needed a place to work through the struggles on my mind, privately. Whatever the reason, I am grateful for this safe haven because I always walked away happier, lighter. After all, there really are no problems, only creative solutions.
I still walk every day and I’ve yet to find a place that brings me the kind of peace that this one did but I’m always searching because I think we all need such a place….I know mine will always have water because where there’s water there’s life. Find your place of peace. Go to it as often as you can and let it work its’ magic on you.