My friend Ange said, “Where have you been most happy?”
She’s a creativity coach starting her own consulting company, so I let her experiment on me. (It didn’t hurt a bit. She promised it wouldn’t.)
I took her crayons and pushed aside my self-consciousness to scribble tragic little stick men on the butcher’s paper she unrolled in front of me… my happy place… my happy place…
1. In the shower.
In times of desperation, creative stalling, when the opening sentence to a story just won’t come, when my body temperature has plummeted, when I need to wash off the stress-stink of work day, or conclusively finish a workout… I shower.
Under the stream of hot water, everything stops. All the straining. Ideas come. First lines. Gamma flashes. I don’t know how it works. But it does. Every time. Douse head. Have ideas.
I’m so glad I live in a waterlogged country.
In Australia, letting water run for too long is the Original Sin. It’s Water. It’s not for just standing under.
But I don’t need long showers in Australia. I get that same joybubblebliss feeling in the ocean.
2. In the surf.
Maybe it’s because smelling of salt and sunscreen snaps me back in time, to when being was unbearably light, back when I was flat-chested, knock-kneed and lived in a swimsuit, when I weighed so little I barely left footprints in the sand.
Some combination of force and froth tosses you when you’re in the surf. You’re weightless again, like when your dad used to hold you by one leg and one arm and spin you like a mechanical “aeroplane” circumnavigating him, the air traffic control tower. Your body would skim and skip across the surface of the water, until he released you. You’d fly, and then the water would catch you.
Douse head. Be happy.
That’s what the stick men say.