Monday, November 26, 2018

What do Dachau and Gallipoli have in common?

Something I have been thinking about recently is how places have their own energies.

I have been to places where thousands of people died tragically in a very short time. Like the gray, gloomy, dark former concentration camp, Dachau, in Germany. Death and destruction lingered in the air, as if something you could touch.

I could feel the same palpable sadness in the air of Gallipoli, a region in modern day Turkey where the First World War took lots of young lives, and hundreds of thousands perished in a very short time. The air is heavier there somehow, despite the tourists at the beaches, the sun shining on the blue beautiful sea, the beauty of my favorite beach in the whole world (Teke bay), where the pebbles rounded and polished by time and waves sit silently together.

I have felt different energies in different buildings and spaces all throughout my life. In some peoples' houses, there is a coziness, a great positive energy that I can pick up immediately and makes me feel at home. In other peoples' houses, I feel like I am an outsider and a very temporary guest.

Bookstores, especially those that sell used books that have touched many lives have an immense, powerful positive energy that is deeply therapeutic for me. In the summer of 2015, the most difficult summer of my life, I would go into Armadillo's Pillow in Rogers Park and just breathe and exist in between the stacks of books. I felt like nothing bad could happen to me there, like nothing bad could ever happen in a bookstore.

In our campus where I work, my building, Kiekhofer Hall, has an amazing positive energy. It has a chapel attached to it, and the quiet peacefulness of the worship space expands to fill the whole building. It has dark wood interiors which I love, and it houses the Modern and Classical Languages and English departments, so it is a building devoted to language, literature and the power of words. The front facade has huge glass windows that let in sunlight on cold but bright winter mornings. It also has a beautiful inner courtyard that transforms into a space of quiet solitude when it snows. Nowhere else on campus can I get this cozy feeling when I enter Kiekhofer. Some other buildings like Goldspohn feel too white, too sterile or bright, almost like hospital buildings. I am so happy that my office is in this building I love, somewhere I can feel at home, at peace.

I also feel a lot of positive energy in the forest of course, at the Morton Arboretum, a place that has become as sacred as a shrine for me in the past couple of years. It is a refuge from the rest of the world, and under the trees I feel like my soul is washed, renewed, rejuvenated. Like bookstores, it is another safe space for me, somewhere where nothing bad could ever happen, anxieties and the real world temporarily put on hold.

The quiet peacefulness, the sense of a goodness emanating from the earth and soil, is why I escape to nature in times of distress and anxiety, and it never fails to soothe me. I am so grateful for this brief respite from the hectic nature of daily life.

As I near the end of my 36th trip around the sun, this is my only wish: To be able to spend more time in places and with people who I feel at home with.

Love and gratitude as always, for this breath, for these spaces, for this life.