I actually have many favorite places currently and have had many different ones over the years. Implied in a favorite place for me is the component of safety along with joy and contentment. Unlike many in the world now, into the future and certainly in the past, being able to experience safety, joy and simultaneously contentment is illusive much of the time. For many of us I imagine our most favorite place often exists in our head and we find ourselves trying to go there often.
The trick for me is to make where I am at the moment, which is always an undeniable reality that should be honored, my favorite place. There is often no other choice. I rarely succeed at this but am getting better at it than I was for much of my life. Before I wonder too deep into the woods with Eckhart Tolle’s Power of Now or Ram Dass and Be Here Now or the Buddha’s timeless invocation to simply sit quietly with the breath, I need to acknowledge many places cannot be called “favorite”. Like being stuck in traffic on a hot day, or on an airplane next to a screaming kid or driving across southern Wyoming or recently having to be with a good friend who has shared he may have metastatic prostate cancer, this after decades of HIV.
I also have to acknowledge that I have really led a pretty privileged life. I have never been in a crowded jail cell, tortured or worse perhaps put in solitary confinement. I have never been in an abusive relationship and my childhood was pretty idyllic despite the stifling reality of the Catholic Church. I don’t live with the constant sound of an American drone hovering above and the horrific but occasional blasting of relatives into oblivion as unfortunate collateral damage. I always felt safe with and experienced endless unconditional positive regard from my parents. I can only imagine the constant horror and struggle of trying to get to a favorite pace if you are a child in an abusive and unsafe environment.
I imagine nearly all people have a favorite place the trick is just being able to get there as often as possible. So should we all be trying to cultivate this “favorite place” as somewhere we can go to mentally rather than always be physically present there? How often have we all imagined if only I was there it would all be perfect? Once we got there however it soon became boring and we wanted to be onto the next favorite place. That certainly has been my M.O. Craving is the ultimate cause of all suffering according to some guy called the Buddha.
So I have a basket full of real favorite places ranging from the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park to my own small patio in the early morning hours with that rare east breeze carrying the scent of fresh mown alfalfa. The smell of freshly cut hay particularly when mixed with the scent of a recent rain has been and remains like mainlining Valium for me invoking my best childhood memories. So in those situations I guess that makes my favorite place an olfactory one. Another favorite place is hearing and dancing with 9,000 of my closest friends at Red Rocks as Furthur launches into a favorite tune like Golden Road to Devotion or Franklin’s Tower. Oh and of course that favorite place of savoring the taste of a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Karamel Sutra on my living room couch and sharing licks of the vanilla with my one cat, Cassidy, who eats dairy. These days a favorite place are the Capital Hill neighborhoods I walk through on my way to the gym and taking in the rainbow of flowers blooming this time of the year and enjoying the daily changes in the many small vegetable gardens popping up with more frequency. And of course a very favorite place is the state of sexual arousal leading to orgasm, that one never seems to get old. It seems perhaps that favorite places vary with the senses and a key for me is to focus on the one sense being stroked most intensely at the moment.
Not to be greedy or in a terminal state of craving but how wonderful it would be to be sitting in the Tea Garden with a pint of ice cream while being jacked off by George Clooney with my ear buds in listening to a recent Further jam in the Fall right after a nice rain shower and the Japanese Maples in their brilliant red glory in full view. But really I suppose my head would then explode and it would all be over rather abruptly. To be fully appreciated perhaps it really is best to take my favorite places one sense at a time.