Thursday, February 9, 2012

Keep Out!

"Never, and I mean never, allow anyone else's ideas
of who you can or can't become sully your dream or pollute your imagination.
This is your territory, and a KEEP OUT sign is a great thing to erect at all entrances to your imagination."

-Wayne Dyer

When I was a kid, I built forts.  Lots of forts. I had forts in the backyard and in the field made from wood and nails that I borrowed from the construction sites nearby. I had forts in my bedroom made from blankets and pillows. I had forts that I made by digging deep, deep holes in the ground, covering them with thatch and weeds. I had forts that came pre-made, such as the tunnel created by the way my mom and dad's huge waterbed met up against the wall. I played in multi-level forts that my cousin built in trees near his house. I built forts on the roof with the back of the basketball hoop as one wall and the angle of the roof another. Forts were a VERY important part of my kid-hood.

Perhaps it was a result of my avid reading of “Calvin and Hobbes” that taught me to put “Keep Out!” and “Do Not Enter!” signs up. Perhaps it was just my need for a space of my own, but my forts were mine. They were MY happy places. Mine alone. My forts were the places I could be safe; the places I could be 100% me. No expectations. No rules. No anything...except what I allowed in. They were places I could go and just be, places I could let my imagination out to play. I had a very physical boundary that separated me from everything else and allowed me a space. The universe and everything in it were mine when I was inside my fort.

When I went to college I lost that. I forgot how to give myself space, how to create boundaries.   I forgot how to use my imagination.  And looking back I think my lack of me-space, my lack of free imagination, is a big reason I went so crazy, why I was so depressed.  Why I felt so suffocated. The hardest of hards is a lot more manageable when you have a safe space, a sacred space, within which to experience it all.

Eventually I learned to go to the mountains. That became my new me space, but there are lots of options. Go to the bathroom (my mom would often go here to read because it was the only place to get away from the kids). Go to the park. Go to the library or the coffee shop. Find a place that's yours. Find a place where you are allowed to be you, 100%. 

But as I've finished school and once again started building my own spaces I've realized something. Safe spaces don't necessarily have to be physical. Sometimes that isn't a possibility. Sometimes you live with messy roommates or have obnoxious neighbors. Whatever the case may be, it is possible to find that happy, safe, sacred space inside yourself. Let your imagination be your happy place. Let it be the place where nobody else's opinion matters one damn bit.  And don't buy into the idea that imagination is just for kids. Allowing my imagination a space has proven to be more important in my adult-hood than I ever thought.  We seem to believe that using one's imagination is for kids and that we grow out of the need for it.  Not so!

I've been really lucky of late to have happy physical places to reside.  Both with people and without.  I've even been learning how to build a happy place while living with other people...something I was never able to do before (perhaps this will be a topic for a future post).  Still, my imagination remains a beautiful space with a big KEEP OUT sign on it.  It's still my sacred me-space.  

But this is just my experience. Do you guys have happy, safe, sacred spaces, whether physical or not?

PS I still build forts. 
Just sayin'.


  1. I love your vivid descriptions and each of the examples you shared brought immediate recollections of my childhood forts.

    Now, as an adult, I have had to find other avenues of escape. As a “card-carrying member of the Church” the temple was always a place of solace but then I fell out of love with the temple. The House of the Lord slowly became a place where I was criticized because I was an adult male of marrying age who was still single. I spent hours in the temple, pleading with the Lord to take away my sorrow, fear, and weaknesses through countless tears.

    Eventually the temple became a place that I started to loathe. It incited anger and hardened my heart more than anything else. I yearned for the blessings I had been promised and when it became evident that I was never going to get them, I lost the temple as a sanctuary against the roar of the world around me.

    Now, like you, I turn to other avenues for escape: music and the mountains. When I am outdoors I feel closer to my maker than I do in any other setting; I’m able to find peace and solace in knowing that I am only a small portion of a grander world . Also, when I play the piano or the organ I am able to lose myself. I get to escape the moment and listen to the notes resonating out of the instruments I have grown to love.

    Ultimately, with the nuclear fallout that hit the fan after I posted my support of Prop 8’s repeal on my personal blog and Facebook, I realized I need more of these sanctuaries in my life. I probably better find them soon because I’m confident that my decision to post on same sex marriage is going to greatly accelerate certain paths of my life …

    Anyway, thanks again for another phenomenal post.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, MJ. Maybe, instead of "losing" yourself in your music and in the mountains, you're actually finding yourself? Just a thought.... :)

  2. Yes. although, I'd never thought about it this way before. I carry mine with me almost everywhere I go. One is my journal. Only there can I let out exactly what I feel, think, or want. I don't have to worry about someone else peeking in on me or judging me or tyring to tell me what to do or think. That is MY space. My place to let my imagination play and to let my frustrations find a warm bed at night. I have stacks of journals. And sometimes people do try to invade my only happy space. They want to read it. Or they say that I write too much. Or whatever else. The other is my backpack. It holds everything I need and represents a lot of my adventures as well as my life processes.