Philosophy over coffee

My Sacred Place

In Size: Venti on June 23, 2008 at 9:44 am

I used to fear being alone. The notion that I wasn’t liked or that I wasn’t likable enough kept running in my mind. I tried to change myself, perhaps even unnecessarily. The issue of being socially detached, of being in my own world concerned me deeply. Many times in the past, I ate alone. I shopped alone. I even went to movies alone. I couldn’t care less before, until I thought I was being too “detached”. It was the notion that being alone is a taboo that got the best of me. I always clung to the idea that one always has to be with somebody else.

However lately, I see myself in the same situation yet again. I eat by myself. I work by myself. I do stuff by myself. But things seem to have changed. The issues that I had to fight with in the past have been replaced by some level of understanding, of ease, of complacency. Hours and hours I spend reading, sipping what looks like a bottomless cup of iced coffee, staring at different people, listening to (and silently following) songs that randomly play in my iPod, even playing racquetball and working out – all of them give me a new sense of ‘me’. Of being by one’s self and of being ‘free’.

It is in those moments that I find myself most productive, at times most reflective, and most independent. It is true to a great extent that things are fun to do when done with friends. But it is in these moments of being alone that I get to appreciate more what it means to be capable of doing things without depending on other people. I get that sense of accomplishment. Many times I have relied on others for my own happiness. But really, it only takes the right way of thinking, the right activities, and the right amount of guts to find satisfaction in being with one’s self.

I can remember reading an article for my English class in the Ateneo called ‘My Sacred Place’. For the sake of discussion, each of us were asked to identify our own sacred places. Some said by the window at home, some by the top of a mountain, while some said inside a church. For me, it was the college chapel, because of the roar of silence, with only the gushing sound of leaves from the surrounding trees breaking it as air passes through them. It was in the midst of silence where I found myself most capable of thinking deeply and reflecting on things that happen to me. But giving it some more thought, I guess one’s sacred place need not be where one can find utter silence or one that is accompanied by the romantic atmosphere created by the setting sun.

Perhaps one’s sacred place need not be literally a place. I’d like to believe that it could be such where a person is able to be in touch most with himself and find satisfaction. Even in the loudest of places. Even in a local restaurant or a coffee shop where people’s attention are diverted to the exchange of thoughts with another party, enjoying their coffee and food while the volume of music gets lost in the background. In that case, one’s sacred place can be found regardless of where he locates himself. In the end, what matters is that we find ourselves submerged by the deepest of thoughts, locked-up within ourselves and the only thing that exists is that space between our bodies and our minds, ready to communicate to each other. One’s sacred place can be found within one’s self.

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