“Describe A Place Or Environment Where You Are Perfectly Content. What Do You
Experience There, And Why Is It Meaningful To You?”
When my mind goes to a place with intense meaning for me and a deep feeling of contentment, it goes to a place real and unreal. The location exists, I am sure, even if I have not been there in many years. It is nothing more than a strip of beach I would visit for a week when my family and I went on a trip. It is not even a “fancy” or popular beach, and I can remember almost no one else there during that time. However, that small and plain strip of sand lives on in my mind in clear detail, and I know it would be the same if I returned today. The place is unreal at the same time, though, because I hold it in my mind and do not ever go back. It is there for me as a mental landscape. It is a memory, but it is a living one because it brings me a feeling of satisfaction nothing else can provide. I haunt it all the time, knowing that each return will fill me with the contentment of having been in a perfect moment in time.
I said that almost no one was ever there and this is true. The place lives on for me, however, because of the exception to this. For several days I would wander off alone and find myself there. I would kick of my shoes and stretch out, looking at the water and enjoying the sense of thinking of nothing at all. It was wonderful to be “nobody” at all, and I would do nothing more than draw lines in the sand with a stick or toss old stones into the water. I was very young, maybe only nine, but this was the first time I was ever really left to myself. That experience alone was exciting; it allowed me to drift into any thought or feeling, and step away from the real world. In retrospect, I believe this is vital, especially for children. I think we can only gain an idea of who we are in the world when we shut it out for a little while. This being new to me, it was an adventure, even as it was an adventure of no action at all. I was able to feel a sense of myself and, since I was so young, I could feel unlimited possibilities as well.
More meaningful than this, however, was the one time I was not alone. A boy just a little older than myself was there one day, and I felt cheated. I felt like someone had actually invaded my mind and my heart, as I had come to think of the strip as completely mine. I was not willing to give it up so I sat some distance away, hoping he would leave. What happened instead is that the boy eventually came over to me. He was friendly, but not too friendly. What truly surprised me was how his words and tone struck me. They were ordinary, but I suddenly understood something; he was there for exactly the same reasons I was and, maybe because he was a little older, he was brave enough to want to share this reality and appreciation. There as just something in the way he spoke that made me understand this, and it was actually thrilling. We sat side by side for an hour or so, never revealing much about ourselves, but talking freely about anything and everything that came into our heads just then. We were like two young travelers meeting up for a moment, both of us knowing we would go onto different lives and worlds. It was the most profound connection I had ever made, and I feel it will always be one of the most important in my life.
As I think about it, I understand that this boy and this hour gave me the best of two worlds. I could be nobody, which I found exciting, and I could share this strange state of being with another. There were no responsibilities of friendship, or even knowledge of another person, in place, and I can feel to this day how I was both alive and excited, and filled with a sense of peace. It was an almost shocking feeling of awareness and helplessness, of knowing I was only one creature on a strip of sand. At the same time, the boy’s presence made me feel connected to the aloneness of everyone. Since that time, I have seen how we all seek to find such connections in life, the kind that give us a deep sense of ourselves in relation to the world, and acknowledge us as being real while still leaving us to be whatever we are or want to be. I was fortunate enough to stumble into that in that hour, and on that little, plain beach. I think about it now and my soul is refreshed. Because it was real, it lives on for me as real, and no scene or place in my life can ever have this meaning for me.