On Sacred Spaces
I'm writing this from somewhere new. Somewhere special. Somewhere which brings out a protective urge in me that physical locations rarely illicit. Part of me desperately wants to write all about it; to describe the things I’m seeing and feeling, and to add the relevant hyperlinks – documenting experiences in this way has been both my natural impulse and my job for many years, after all. But I'm trying, these days, to find a better balance between an impulse to quantify and communicate my own human experience, and an instinct which tells me (more insistently than ever) that some things - and some places - deserve quiet, privacy, and respect.
In the social media age, a prerogative to research and report which that was once the reserve of the journalist has become a modus operandi for us all. Relentlessly sharing our lives in this way has had a profound impact on the way we travel, but also how we eat, work, and love. The notion that creative professionals might perform unpaid work 'for the exposure' has mostly been debunked and yet here we find ourselves doing just that, every day. What insidious impact has our compulsive broadcasting had not only on the places that we post and tag – but also on our relationships, and ourselves?
These are the questions I'm asking myself as I move through the world these days. Capitalism has commodified 'sharing', turning it into something so warped and transactional that it can be hard to remember what the word even means. In a time when 'safe spaces' come with $300-a-month membership costs, and every last inch of the earth seems to have been geotagged on an influencer's Instagram feed, it feels like we drastically need to relearn how to honour and protect the sacred spaces that still exist without us, and within.
As someone who has failed to do just that on numerous occasions in the past - be it for financial gain, or out of sheer mindlessness - I can't pretend to know exactly how. But I'm glad to have reached a place of relative awareness about my need to learn, and I'm finding solace, as ever, in the thoughts of people who have already considered the subject with great insight on my (our) behalf.
On that note, here's Joseph Campbell on 'bliss stations' and the sacred, taken from the famous interview series with Bill Moyers, If you haven't read the transcription in its entirety, I highly recommend checking it out.
"[Sacred space] is an absolute necessity for anybody today. You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.
Our life has become so economic and practical in its orientation that, as you get older, the claims of the moment upon you are so great, you hardly know where the hell you are, or what it is you intended. You are always doing something that is required of you. Where is your bliss station? You have to try to find it."