When I first moved to Chicago, I had a lot of trouble finding positive outlets. I didn't know a lot of people and didn't know the area very well. The combination of spending a lot of time in my head and not having a place to release that energy was a really lonely feeling. I wouldn't want that feeling ever again but I ended up learning a lot about myself, those first few months out there. As self-defined as I feel sometimes, it's hard to go weeks without your regular outlets. I can't get in my car and go for a drive. I've spent the last four days looking for a basketball court and everyone one I find is either private or has no rims. (I actually went into a bar the other day that had one on their patio. I must have looked like a little kid because I was so excited). You can't run on the street because it's uneven and stray dogs would chase you. My computer and internet have not been working for the last few days. So I have felt a little trapped.
I've been having fun going out and exploring some of the nightlife here. When your outlets and your social scene become the same space though, it's usually not a good thing. So this lack of outlets at the moment got me thinking about the places in my life that help me release.
If you had to name 5 places that you consider your personal sanctuaries (places of peace, places of intense rest, places to refresh) , what would they be? What do they have in common?
I'm excited to ask people here this question because I have no idea what they're going to say. Older folks might say their temple or ashram but I don't understand yet where younger people go to recenter themselves. I'm kind of scared that they won't have an answer or that they're going to say something messed up.
I've been thinking about my list the last couple days. Here it is:
Two of my sanctuaries, interestingly enough, are temples. My family in India visits one of the temples every morning (as they've done for over a hundred years). It's quiet and people don't bother you to make donations. One corner of the temple is outside and surrounded by palm trees. I like to sit out there during the day and just take the day in. I've only been to the other temple a few times but it has the same intense quiet feel to it. You can hear yourself move around and if you sit still, you can hear yourself breath. Neither temple actively asks you to donate and the priests are super laid back.
I thought I would lead with the temples, since I'm in India. The rest of the locations on the list come from back home.
Two of the remaining three are taquerias (are you surprised?). Pollo Vagabundo (Elmhurst, Illinois) and Angela's Burrito Style (Chicago, Illinois). Carlos' food at Pollo has made me happy in my worst moods. I usually get up four or five times to hit the salsa bar. I believe in the healing properties of his salsa. After eating, I go to the counter and talk to him about life for a little bit and then head out totally refreshed. I've written about the other taqueria before. Guerzo, the owner of Angela's, became part of my family in Chicago. His taqueria was right down the street and we would talk about all sorts of stuff when I was in there. Both places were such escapes from my normal life.
The last sanctuary is a basketball court. There is one particular court in my hometown that I've spent years of my life on. My buddy David and I joke that no other humans have spent as much time on that court as us! (it's true!). I started playing ball on the court when I was 5 or 6 and it's still one of the first places I go to when I go home. So many conversations and memories about life have gone down there.
There's something about each place that quiets my mind and makes me feel free. I hope I find some new places in my journey out here. So, what are your sanctuaries?