Rule #20: Find a Sanctuary
“The soul falls into contemplation before this sanctuary, where the celebration of love is held.”
Victor Hugo, Les Miserables
Life is difficult.
I’ve started a couple of these rules with these same words, because I believe they are true.
We face challenges, failures and loss loves throughout our lives and the pain can be overwhelming at times. In recent weeks I have watched my children struggle with a variety of personal issues which has made me think about how we get through life’s challenges, and how we go on after failure or loss.
I’ve thought about pain and what advice I could give to you, what rule there is that could guide you through life’s difficult times. And the word I keep coming back to is SANCTUARY.
I choose not to use the more famous Victor Hugo quote from the Hunchback of…”Sanctuary! Sanctuary!” . I did this because I do not believe that what we need is a church or place to hide from pain, but a way to find peace from pain.
In the quote I used, there is a young couple on their wedding night being observed, and the passion and love is seen as a sanctuary from the misery which was life 19th century France. It was their escape and their peace.
In our lives we need this sanctuary to refocus and get through the trials of life. We all suffer love and disappointment but we have to find a way to center ourselves to get through to the next day.
I think you can find this sanctuary around you, but you must seek to develop it and nurture it. You must open your heart to find peace in it.
Each of you have to find a different source, for Andrew and Collin I have seen it in physical exercise which is both a healthy and safe Sanctuary. In your workouts you find a centering, a peace to help you through the difficult times. It clears you mind so that you can make sense of everything that you are experiencing.
Unhealthy things like obsession with video games, alcohol or drugs give you the same relaxation but doesn’t give you the refocus necessary to rejoin the world. Sanctuaries need to be places where there can be a refocusing rather than just avoiding pain. I think people become addicted to drugs because they are searching for their sanctuary and mistake the emptiness for peacefulness.
I’ve struggled personally to find my own sanctuary through much of my life. Although I like music and art I lacked the talent or commitment to make it my true harbor. For much of my life I thought that work would be my sanctuary- that through working hard I could find that centering necessary to be happy. And despite finding significant financial and personal success I did not find the Sanctuary I needed.
It took me decades on mistakes to find my path to happiness, to find a place that would give me that inner peace when I needed it. I found mine in the embrace of my love for you my children, through the cathartic release of this blog and through the love of a special Princess.
I continue to develop my sanctuary by understanding myself better through writing these rules for you, it is my hope that my words will help you avoid at least a decade or two of struggles.
A true sanctuary should have three things:
– It must demand your full attention – making it impossible to focus on other things. This blog does that for me, but it may be art, reading, fishing, riding horses- anything. But it must require you to be fully present.
– It must be healthy– there is no right or wrong Sanctuary, but there can be healthy and unhealthy ones. Things that improve or at least do not damage you are the direction you should seek.
– When you are “in” your sanctuary you find peace- Don’t look for just quiet or restful- look for that true inner peace. You will know it because it will feel like someone is stroking you on the head and wrapping you in warm arms. Look for that calming effect in your sanctuary.
A cautionary ” do as I say not as I do” statement:
Your sanctuary is rarely found in another person entirely. It can only be found with complete and absolute trust – a rarity in life, and seldom found in a relationship. I worry that because of my love for my family I may be sending you the message that your marriage and your family should be your sanctuary above all else. Honestly in most people I met they have not been able to find peace in other people. I have been blessed – but I strongly recommend before the age of 40 to find this in activity rather than people.
As a father the most important thing I can wish for you is inner peace and happiness, and my greatest fear is that you are left without a path to it. This blog is suppose to be a guide, but I want to be clear that Bobbi and I will always be here to provide a Sanctuary for you until you find your inner peace. Lean on us, it makes us feel needed.
For the record, Princess…you are my Sanctuary. But it took too damn long to find you.