Just like our fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers; the good men of today put the burden of the world on our shoulders. When the car breaks down, the bills pile up, and the house starts to fall apart; we feel like it’s our duty to fix the world that is crumbling around us.
Everywhere we look, we find people and situations that need our attention, without a minute to ourselves. All of the places we used to go to get away from the world and collect our thoughts are no longer our own.
With the women in our lives putting their elegant, yet unfamiliar touch on what used to be our domain; and children, friends, and co-workers crowding the rest; only one place remains for a man to seek refuge from his burdens.
Every day, I’m the first out of bed so that nothing and no one can get in the way of finding my solace. I grab the paper and some coffee and head to the only remaining place I can have either a clear thought or no thought at all: the bathroom.
Once inside, I lock the door and breathe a deep sigh of relief anticipating the blissful nothingness that awaits me. I allow the cold porcelain to jump-start my awareness before I take my first bitter sip of coffee.
With lack of urgency, I yawn and completely zone out; my eyes moving in and out of focus on the patterns of the wallpaper. In a state of near sleep, I begin to see familiar shapes and allow my imagination to go where it pleases.
As my business arrives, I reach a high level of awareness and concentration that transports me away from this world and into my own. All stress seems far away and insignificant.
Afterward, I savor the moment of satisfaction and release. I evaluate the greatness of the moment in comparison to other great moments in my past. If it is a particularly great moment, I feel the desire to tell everyone I see for the rest of the day until I realize that no one would understand.
Instead, I keep the satisfaction to myself and remain in my retreat well after the fact. I might pick up the paper, think about my day, or brainstorm my next big idea.
Sometimes I think back on all the great thrones of refuge I’ve had the pleasure of attending in my life. As a child, the escape in my parent’s house had a great wallpaper pattern that would match up when I crossed my eyes and pop out in 3-D. Man, was that entertaining.
It was in that same space that I taught myself how to move my ears. No other escape afforded me the type of uninterrupted concentration required to accomplish this feat. I followed this success with learning to flare my nostrils.
When I was a manager at The Gallup Poll, I made sure that I was the first to arrive in the office so that I could lay the first claim to the refuge. It gave me great satisfaction to know that the janitor had prepared the thinking space just for me. I would use the time to plan my attack for the day and get into the proper mindset for work.
When I worked as a French Interpreter for Continental Airlines, I spent countless hours of boredom at Newark Liberty International Airport. I took the time to explore every terminal for the perfect retreat. I found a tucked away spot one floor down from the main terminal near a little used gate.
It was the only place I could get away from the constant chatter of intercom announcements and angry customers. I didn’t mind walking the extra distance to find my refuge. It was the only thing that kept me sane as I leapfrogged the Atlantic.
My Refuge is Threatened
Living with my girlfriend has been a blessing. She has really great taste and we have a lot of fun sharing a living space together; but when we first moved in I ran into an unexpected surprise. The first morning together I woke up first as usual and slipped away to explore my new think-tank. As I zoned out and collected myself I was startled out of the relaxed state by a scratching noise at the door.
Who could possibly be trying to invade my only refuge? The sound paused for a couple of seconds and then continued, this time even louder with an accompanying “meow!”
Apparently, my new roommate (Joey the cat) shared my affection for the porcelain palace; but unfortunately he didn’t share my need to be there alone. I tried to ignore him, hoping that he would lose interest and move along; but just the opposite happened. He changed tactics and attempted to reach his paw under the door to find another way in.
I began to feel a sense of claustrophobia as I realized that my private hideout might be lost forever. Unable to handle the constant scratching and meow noises, I let him in; hoping that he would just do his thing and leave. Taking me by surprise, he went straight for my legs, prancing through in figure-eights and rubbing his nose against my shins.
This was the worst possible scenario. Without a place to think for myself, I risked losing my identity forever. I feared living a life in constant stress and at the mercy of everyone around me.
The Sacred Ritual
I am always suspicious of men who rush their retreats into refuge. If they take care of business in less than five minutes, I wonder if they properly appreciate the sacred nature of the ritual. I wonder if, in their haste, they might have hurt themselves. I wonder if they are capable of taking the proper time to just be with themselves.
Some of my best ideas have come mid-meditation in the sacred space. Business plans, blog ideas, movie concepts, investment strategies, and other flashes of brilliance would never have been possible without me-time.
I’m sure other men have had the same experience. I would be willing to bet that some of the greatest ideas in history owe their origination to the seat retreat. Think of how different this world might be if men were not able to exercise this inalienable right.
Good Men of the World, Unite!
As the world around us slowly encroaches on our space, we must never let go of this sacred ground. Those of you who feel as I do must fight with me to keep our right to a private moment every day!
I ask the women who are reading this article to take this new understanding of masculine nature and please allow us to keep this small piece of ground as our own. Any other time we would gladly bend over backwards to attend to your every need; but this is the one time of day that we can’t be rushed or asked to do favors. Without this sacred time, the rest of our lives might crumble. The future of mankind is at stake!
My Future Refuge
I have had to negotiate some compromises with Joey the cat during my private time. I wake up a few minutes earlier to allow him some attention. When he is happy, I am allowed to start me-time in peace.
I still long for the perfect place of refuge. I have it all planned out. When I build my dream house, I will design it to be the perfect incubator of genius. There will be a convenient place for coffee and reading material, a comfortable seat, some light music, and a system to eliminate the threat of uninvited cats.
Maybe my dream space will foster the idea that leads to world peace. At least it gives me something to strive for. Until then, I’ll continue to cherish the time that I have; and I hope you will too.