One of the wonderful things about working on a college campus is being able to enjoy those wonderful little spots most of us left behind at graduation. Although the fountain in the middle of the quad is my favorite spot on campus, I also like the nearby picnic tables, the tables outside the WPAC, which houses classrooms, offices and theatre spaces, and the row of seats spread out across from the wall of windows upstairs from the theatre. I like the swings near the bridge across from the tennis courts, too, but typically leave those to the students.
Today, I stopped in the library -- another of my favorite spots -- to pick up some long-lost textbook pages. I conducted my business and, on my way out, sat down briefly in a chair by the entrance to send an e-mail.
Since it's summer, there was little activity, making the library especially quiet. E-mail sent, I stayed right where I was, enjoying the quiet, just me and my cell phone (and a backpack of things to to, which I ignored). I'm not sure how long I stayed -- long enough to feel peaceful, but not long enough to feel guilty for wasting time.
By contrast, several weekends ago, my husband and I went to the beach. It was relaxing and lovely and all the good things the beach is and our day on the sand was sunny and breezy. Perfect for a beach meditation, right?
When we got to the beach, (which was chillier than I expected), it took me a few minutes to settle my middle-aged self into a comfortable position in a beach chair lower than my center of gravity. Still, it's the beach, so who's complaining?
Once settled, I pulled out my meditation app, leaned back and closed my eyes. (Yes, I know I'm supposed to start with my eyes open, but whose meditation is this anyway?)
Well, not exactly. As it turns out, the beach is a pretty noisy place. Seagulls squawking. People chatting. Waves crashing. Balls thwacking against paddles.
I'd have had a more peaceful meditation in my chair in the library. With headphones, of course, so as not to disturb the other patrons.
Don't get me wrong -- it was a great day at the beach and I was delighted to be there. But, sometimes, you just need a quiet spot.
And it may be closer to home than you think.