The water slaps gently against the shore. I take a deep breath and draw-in the cool breeze blowing across my face, the warm sand on my feet, and the squawk of the seagulls overhead foraging the beach for food.
The stress that has built up in my chest over two months of starting work at the crack of dawn and staying late at the office until the sun has gone down starts to slip away, piece by piece, breath by breath. The stakeholder update I promised my program manager and the script for the training video that I’ve been mulling and working on every chance I get are both very distant memories. That’s not all. My upcoming annual performance review with my boss that will make or break how I’m viewed in my organization has completely slipped my mind.
I get up and get ready to jump into the ocean water and my phone rings. I open my eyes, bang my head against the headrest on my chair, and am instantly pulled back into reality.
I think to myself that it was nice while it lasted and I get back to work. “This is Brian, how can I help you?” I ask into the receiver. Later in the day on my drive home, I think again about my happy place and the dream places that we all set up for ourselves.
My dream place more often than not is a quiet beach. The Caribbean comes quickest to mind, but many of the beaches along the Jersey Shore fill the gap too. Other times my happy place could be a misty mountain or a dusty old country road. Still other times my dream place could be a quiet desk overlooking a grove of trees, giving me the chance and the space to empty the pent-up thoughts and creativity jostling around in my head.
Most days, though, my happy place is a sunny beach. I’ve pulled the image from an assortment of travel magazines I’ve browsed through over the years and various trips to Maui in the Hawaiian Islands, St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and beaches along the Atlantic seaboard. The picture I get in my head is near perfect. I’m not sure it exists in real life, but it most certainly exists in my thoughts.
Different for everyone
For me, the part of the picture that stands out the most is the sound: the ripple of the water hitting the shore. I’m a below-average swimmer, but I love how soothing water can be. I love how calm and how at ease it makes me.
For other people, their happy place comes through other things. While I crave quiet, they crave the hustle and bustle. I used to swear that one of my former boss’ happy place was a desk full of work. He loved a good story and loved to be busy working on it. He never seemed happy until it was 20 minutes to deadline and he had to crank out 15 inches of copy.
Take him away from that and he would’ve been lost. Put me on a Caribbean island and I might never come back. I’ll take a quiet beach over any other spot in the world any day of the week. My hope is that someday it’s my retirement place.
For now, I’ll settle on my happy place being a distant dream in the back of my mind that I pull out every so often on a challenging Monday or a busy work day and cradle ever so carefully in my arms.
Oh, yes, one day it will be reality, but for now, it’s my goal to work toward, my little bit of Heaven on Earth.