Directly in front of the library of my Florida college campus was a huge tree offering plenty of year round shade. The grass was soft enough to sit on and it was usually not overcrowded. Once I discovered it, the tree base became my regular sanctuary; sometimes I would rather sit there than go home.
There I could daydream, people watch, or just sit and study a book. It was there I saw my first and only set of double rainbows circled around the sun - like a ring of color. People came to visit me; notably Cindy, someone I missed knowing better in High School. She and I shared soul searching conversations deeper than any I'd known before. It was there that I read Herman Hesse for the first time, with the effect that I could feel safe and secluded in a very public space.
No matter what happened in my life 'outside', under that tree I flourished. I had found my 'sitio', my 'spot', long before I even read Castaneda. It was my first 'aha moment' about Islands of Safety.
For as this appalling ocean surrounds the verdant land, so in the soul of man there lies one insular Tahiti, full of peace and joy, but encompassed by all of the horrors of the half-lived life.
I began to develop the concept of Islands of safety in my book, The Hamlet Secret, and as a guest blogger for a friend:
These 'Islands' are not only people, but include things, music, books, activities and places where we can go to stay in touch with our true, authentic selves. Certain music, for example, has a way of healing or consoling us, just as activities can provide us a center or balance, like bike riding, walking or yoga. And the same can be true for 'hard spaces'.
As a coach I've used these Islands to support the many people who get drained of energy by the realization that life is not going to occur as they imagined it would: people are not going to agree with us and will mostly behave in ways we just don't understand. Our life view may include love, trust and respect as basic expectations, yet we'll often find fear, doubt and criticism instead. And we'll have to make some sense of this life as we travel from one point to another.
Islands of Safety will be the safe harbors we go to when the constant ebb and flow of the 'Inconsistent Sea' gets too hard to bear. There are islands of safety in all aspects of our lives and by stringing together enough of these, by conscious effort and awareness, we may find ourselves less and less feeling lost and adrift.
Right now, with my feet up, the patio door open and a cool breeze blowing, I am on one of my favorite islands. It's where I read and where I write. I work there, I relax there, my dog sits at my feet and music plays. Weather permitting, this IOS extends to a table and chair under the side yard's pine tree where most mornings I have my coffee and a bit of meditation. Its my 'sitio' here at home.
Let me ask you: What/where is your Island of Safety? I'm hoping if we begin to map them all out we may spend more time on 'dry land' and less flailing about in water over our heads.