Oh man, what a cliche. Sorry folks, I guess I am just a cliche machine. So what? It’s a perfectly useful cliche, and suitable for what I’m going to talk about today. I have a happy place that I go to when I need to, and this blog is about finding that place for yourself, so the cliche stands.
What do you do when life’s heavy burdens weigh you down? Where do you escape to? I found myself needing such a place, and–luckily–I found one a couple of years ago.
We were camping out with some friends at their favorite campground and one of them said he was going up to the hot springs, did I want to come? Well yeah, a hot springs? Of course I want to check that out. We spent a few hours up there that first night, and the next morning I was back there again with the kids.
After that first time, I started going up there regularly. It might even have been once a week at first, but soon settled into more of a once per month thing. Deep in the woods, with no reception, no sound of traffic or any of the bustle of human civilization–it was a perfect place to decompress and clear my head.
The truth is, we aren’t always clear-headed to begin with, and we’re not always happy. That’s why we need a “happy place”. Deep inside, there’s some awareness of what we ought to feel like: grounded, content, secure. But, the pressures of life’s responsibilities, the things on the news, the everyday grind, can all drag you further and further away from that feeling. This is when you need a place to go to clear your head.
For me, it got really bad earlier this year. There was some… stuff. Basically me trying to be too many things to too many people at the same time, getting way over my head with too many obligations and working my days away without any breaks. (All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.) It got to a breaking point and I just had to disappear out into the woods and spend the day at the hot springs.
My Mom called this a, “mental health day,” and that simple phrase reminded me that every day should include some consideration of our mental health. That’s true, of course, but she’s also right. Sometimes we need a special day to empty out all those nagging thoughts, escape from our stressors, and take a real deep breath.
If I have the time, I will drive to the trail head, hike a mile in through the woods, and then soak in the springs for a while, hiking out when I’m done. When it’s too cold or rainy for that, or I just don’t have the time, I will drive all the way up the bumpy service roads to get to my quiet spot. It’s nice in the winter (if there’s not too much snow to get up the road) because the springs are hot even when the air is cold. It’s nice in the rain because the springs are hot. Hahahaha. It’s nice any time because the springs are hot.
Every blog that I write in this “Clean” category is some kind of candid confessional, or at least it should be. Clean, to me, is about having a clean conscious and a clean spirit. It’s about coming clean, being honest, about digging deep into matters of purpose and meaning.
So, today is me admitting that I sometimes need a place in nature to let down my burdens and be healed by the Earth, to appreciate the work of my Creator. I encourage you to recognize the same needs in yourself, and honor them when you need to. Find a happy place you can escape to when it’s time.