Refuge

Where do you go when there’s nowhere else to go?

Being human, as it turns out after living a couple of decades on this planet, isn’t just about a bunch of your bodily organs functioning in sync at the command of your brain until everything withers away and you die. Not anymore, at least.

If you take a look at other life forms on Earth, chaos is the norm. Uncertainty and unpredictability defines how all creatures live. Pop out of an egg or a womb one fine morning, then either live all your creature-years fulfilling your daily loop mindlessly, or die the very next day. No decisions to make, no hearts to break. Oh, what a life that must be! Think about your dog, or your neighbour’s cat. Or the fly you just did squat. How many decisions must have they taken that changed their lives? Or how many hearts must have they broken?

So yeah, we’ve found order in our lives, courtesy the society and all the rules and constructs we have woven around how to live in it. There are rules on how you are supposed to behave. Even if your moral compass is all fine, there are unspoken rules and expectations laid down that you must adhere to, or you’ll be ostracized.

We’ve been raised to feel at home and at peace with this order. But at times, the civility of this loop breaks and you end up being out of sync. You’ve messed up, you did not follow the rules to the word. Maybe because this time you did not give a damn. You didn’t listen to that voice in your head that tried to make you succumb and eat what you really want. Good job! But now, you’re out of sync. There’s nowhere to go, because the others want to stay in sync too. They cannot truly feel what happens when you’ve broken the loop, unless they break it themselves. You have nowhere to go.

Where would you go?

Refuge

Everyone needs a place. It shouldn’t be inside of someone else. — Richard Siken

I’ve been at such a juncture multiple times in my life. Many a time, when I feel I have nowhere to go, I go to my refuge. The one that I’ve built for myself over the years that holds me safe when there’s a shitstorm going on outside. It’s like my underground bunker to prevent me from all that nuclear fallout. Then when the fallout ends, I come squeaky clean, stronger than before.

For me, my refuge have been things that have comforted me at some point in my life. Books, movies, songs, places. Whenever I’d feel miserable, I’d go back to one of these things and cut off from everything else. However insurmountable the heartbreak might seem, I’ve always come out clean on the other side. I’d re-read few chapters of Murakami or the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, re-watch Harry Potter or Interstellar, or The Man from Earth. I’d listen to Radiohead on a loop for hours. I’d watch Sarah Kay perform Point B. I’d listen to Carl Sagan talking about a Pale Blue Dot — which sounds almost like a surreal sermon in fact. I know I’d come out clean, healed.

What does your refuge look like?