I’m sitting on the deck with my morning coffee as I write this. The birds are busting with excitement about something – most likely, the big news is that they are alive for another day.
Welcome to my happy place. This spot is a touchstone for me. I know this view and I know that the only people I might see from this vantage point will be friends. I know that I am safe here. Just me, my partner, my coffee and fifty of my closest bird friends.
This feeling of security is so important right now. I imagine that in households everywhere, we are all – consciously or unconsciously – drawn to the places, people, activities, and maybe even foods that make us feel safe. Some of those things may not be accessible right now, so we find other ways to recreate the feelings associated with them.
It is interesting to me that feelings of personal safety can be created in such a variety of ways. In times of perceived danger, we suddenly become more conscious of what makes us feel safe and so I have been sitting here thinking about the ways I seek that in my own life.
In 1998, my partner’s mother spent the last two months of her life in a coma. My partner and I were both teaching full time and would go to the hospital in the evenings and on the weekends. During that difficult time, our home was certainly our touchstone, but we found we needed something more. Our daily lives needed to go on during those two months; the activities of “normal” life took place in every room in our home – except in The Fort.
I don’t remember precisely when we created it, but I remember how important it became in those two months. It wasn’t really a fort, of course, but rather a designated safe spot. We put futons on the floor in front of the couch, added comfy pillows and soft blankets, moved a side table within reach, and placed there a box of tissue, the remote control, a selection of favourite movies, and favourite snacks we normally wouldn’t indulge in. I remember licorice and potato chips.
When daily life became too overwhelming, we would get into our jammies and head for the fort. We used “fort time” as a way to let each other know when we needed to escape. It was a tiny corner of safety in a very uncertain time.
One of the most difficult times in my life was when my partner had leukemia and needed a stem cell transplant. For this, we had to leave our home and relocate to Vancouver. We had a comfortable place to live for those six months, but it wasn’t my home. I never felt completely safe there, but it wasn’t because I was in someone else’s home, it was because my true home – my partner – was in jeopardy. We were together, which made us feel as safe as was possible in our tenuous situation.
I have included a clip of video today, because it got me thinking about all this in the first place. I went hiking last weekend and visited a lovely set of falls. I climbed out onto a large, flat rock and from there, I took the video below. Everything around me was moving. It was fast, loud and chaotic. Water ran at various speeds and seemingly in different directions. Yet I was completely safe and secure in the midst of all that turmoil. My rock didn’t shift or even wiggle. It was solid and I felt safe from the dangerous swirls all about me. And I thought about COVID 19 and this strange era in our lives. I thought about how we each need to find our rock from which we can observe what is going on around us with curiosity and compassion; where, if necessary, we could safely extend a hand to someone caught in the current.
There is no doubt that for me, my partner is my rock. I love our home – this deck – this safe place. But we survived our toughest time away from our home. As long as we’re together . . . we have said to each other in every scary time over the past 32 years.
No better time than now to reflect on who your rock is.
Have you told them lately?