When you were growing up did you have a private spot to which you would go when you wanted to be alone, where no one would bother you? It might have been in the attic, on the creek bank, under your bed, or maybe by the trunk of a big tree with leafy limbs hanging low to make an outdoor room.
There you were free to do whatever you needed to do.
My place was the hayloft. Climbing up and coming down were both a little treacherous, but while settled in a pile of hay, I felt safe, protected and free. There I might softly cry and lick my invisible wounds suffered from a well-deserved correction administered by a caring parent. My pride didn’t let me show my truest feelings while my punishment was being explained, but I could let it all out in the hayloft and admit to myself that I had learned my lesson.
My legs frequently ached from what we called “growing pains.” This was before a polio vaccine had been developed, and the possibility of a child’s contracting this dreaded disease struck fear in the heart of every family. To protect my parents from worrying that my leg ache might be a symptom of polio, I would slip off for a while to the hayloft and unknown to them massage my leg muscles and worry to myself.
I did fun things in my private place, too. I might fantasize that I had won a trip to Hollywood where I met famous movie stars who paid attention to me. I might imagine that I had had been given some sort of honor and I was standing before an audience using proper words and creating winning facial expressions as I was making my acceptance speech. It was nice to daydream, simply let my mind wander in a peaceful, cleansing experience.
Sometimes I actually went to my private retreat for practical reasons, to think through a situation and view it from all perspectives without distraction. I needed its quiet in which to evaluate ideas I had come up with without anyone trying to influence my opinion before I understood it myself.
There was no better place to practice reciting a poem assigned to be memorized by tomorrow’s English class. I could stop and start over any number of times and no one would know how difficult memorizing was for me.
In the hayloft I often sang uninhibited, paying no attention to my inability but lifting my heart and spirit with a song.
A space set aside for solitary reflection can have a serious impact on our management of life. I left my hayloft hangout many a time with a problem that had shrunk, a decision made on an earthshaking matter known only to kids, and boasting a refreshed outlook.
Probably in my hayloft I learned that we never get too grown-up to need such a place from time to time.