Finding the perfect refuge

We all need to run somewhere when the pressure is on. It is usually a place where we feel safe. I remember as a child, a spot under a tall casuarina tree near the beach that was my favourite sanctuary whenever I needed to be alone.

By Akif Abdulamir (Desert Classics)

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Published: Sat 17 Apr 2010, 9:16 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 10:06 AM

I would pick a time when the place was completely deserted. It was often in the afternoon when the town was taking a siesta.

The roaring of the waves as they rush to the white sands would sometimes lull me to sleep. I also remember the whizzing of the branches as the wind touched the treetops and a few twirled leaves showered on my head. A distant boat, with its white sail dancing in the airstream in the open sea would often delight me as it rocked gently forward.

The strangest thing was that there was always this fat seagull who would hover above me and then perch on the next tree to look curiously down at me. It would stay there for a few minutes before disappearing. Perhaps it had a nest somewhere and was checking me out to see if I meant any harm to its young ones.

The casuarina tree is a fading memory now but I have found more sanctuaries as I plough my way into the thick jungle we know as life. Childhood is a floating island that moves fast to join the main land as time moves on. We may at times wish that the island never drifted and remained anchored firmly in the same place. However, as our little islands become part of the land of maturity, we step into a world that has many complications. We see parents, teachers and the laws enforcing strict discipline but we also see a transgressing line of lawlessness infiltrating the very path we tread on. The greatest tragedy is that although it is easy not to walk on that line, it is also very hard to stay away from it.

This is where the sanctuaries restore order by giving you the strength to paint the transgressing line deep red and put up a sign that would say, “out of bounds.”

Sometimes, finding a perfect refuge does not require any effort. You may step into one without giving much thought. If you are in a place where you find yourself reconciling with your inner conflicts, then you have found it. My neighbour once told me that he sometimes went to the roof of his house in the dead of the night to keep check.

“I watch out for the burglars who may break in the houses,” he said.

Little did he know that the roof was his refuge when he wanted to be alone with his thoughts. The stillness of the night was also a refuge for the man who admitted he was taking rounds every night to check the doors and windows of his neighbours.

There are many safe places where the mind revitalises the soul and helps us navigate better. I sometimes wonder if people who have lost their minds are in permanent sanctuaries and have decided to stay there. Such sanctuaries are never impregnable though, but they are a haven that takes you away when the pressure boils over.

They put you in a state of mind where conflicts seem irrelevant and the effort never blunts your important decisions. Sanctuaries make you stop thinking of your disappointments preventing you to fall in the pit of uncertainty. Nothing can be so disturbing than looking for answers to a thousand questions. I suggest you find that place when your sanity is threatened. It could be just around the corner where you never thought of looking.

Akif Abdulamir is an Oman-based writer. For comments, write to opinion

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