“The beach is my happy place.”
“Crafting puts me in my happy place.”
“Happy place, happy face. Farting on the human race.”
I don’t know why, but the idea of a “happy place” has always seemed to me like it was contrived as an excuse for people to post smug photos of their beach vacations. Or, maybe, a way for some Etsy crafter to use a script font to put an inspirational saying onto another throw pillow.
I believe it’s possible to find relaxation nearly anywhere you put your mind to it. But I’ve never understood how anyone can have an actual “happy place” that magically washes their cares away. My mind, even on the most relaxing vacation, is a hornet’s nest of anxieties and overclocked trains of thought.
Case in point: I was on a beach in the Bahamas before Christmas last year, and I was as anxious as I had been in weeks. There was no joy, mon. I’ve never considered that it was possible for anyone else, anxiety or not.
That is, until I realized I’ve had a happy place all along.
Earlier this week, I drove out of the city to Theodore Naish Scout Reservation to drop off a Raspberry Pi rig I had helped design as a way to turn a bunch of smartphones into game show buzzers. The rig had been missing for a couple of months. After frantically asking everyone I know if it had landed in their possession, I realized that it had been in my hellmouth of a garage the entire time.
Pulling up to the security gate, I knew I was driving into a stressful situation. There was a work crew getting ready to staff a Wood Badge training course this week. I knew they were going to be frazzled as they rushed to make final preparations before participants arrived at 7:00 am the next day. They were going to need to be reminded how the Raspberry Pi worked and how to connect participants’ phones to it. And, I knew that there’d probably be a person or two that wasn’t happy with the fact that I had misplaced this rather essential piece of equipment under my own nose.
There was a lot going on in my head. Yet, as that gate opened for me to enter, a wave of calm hit me. I actually felt my blood pressure drop.
It was the first truly nice day of the year. I was heading in to see a group of good friends that I don’t get to see often. I was there to help them create an exceptional training course. As I drove forward, the breeze came in the open window. I heard the popping of gravel under the tires. I turned up the access road, past the staff cabins, up to the dining hall. When I stepped into that large room, it hit me.
“Well, I’ll be damned. This is my happy place.”
In that moment, I realized this place had a calming effect on me every time I came here. Whether I was here to train adults or shepherd around a bunch of rambunctious young boys in the blazing heat of July, I was calm when I was within the borders of Camp Naish.
I could have dropped off the kit, given a 5-minute tutorial on how it worked, and hit the road. But I didn’t. I helped set up the classroom area. I helped tweak PowerPoint presentations. I answered tech support questions. I offered to fix the PA system. I spent time with my friends and ate cold cut sandwiches and chicken noodle soup for lunch, even when I had planned on going to the barbecue joint down the highway on my way back to the city. All of this on a beautiful Spring day at a place that, apparently, magically washes my cares away when I enter.
I stayed over three hours longer than I needed to at my happy place. I had things to do. But those things could wait, at least for half a day.
I used to think that the idea of a happy place was elusive and perhaps a bit ridiculous. But, now, I realize how essential it is to have one.