“Happiness can only be found if you free yourself from all other distractions.” -Saul Bellow
I have had a long-standing love affair with bath tubs.
I stayed in numerous hostels while completing a semester in Europe; I stayed in hotels in nearly all of the 50 states while touring for work; and I lived in a dozen different apartments in Spokane, Washington, NYC, and the San Francisco Bay Area before moving to Los Angeles last year.
Through all of my travels, I had the world I dreamed of right outside my door, and yet I was often terrified of exploring it, and engaging with people within it. As a result, I felt utterly alone.
In those moments, when I felt a deep sense of longing and internal conflict, I’d run the water, melt into the cocoon-like heat, and watch the air fill with steam as I avoided creating clarity around my feelings.
It took me years to realize I had created a healthy crutch. This wasn’t an addiction or dangerous avoidance tactic—I had those, as well. This was something innocent and harmless, but nonetheless, a way to hide from myself.
I know lots of people who have their own “healthy crutches.” Some people throw themselves into work or hobbies so they won’t have time to think. Some people consume themselves in helping other people so they don’t have to help themselves.
None of these things are inherently bad. It’s great to relax and be productive, and the world is a better place when we look out for each other. But it’s our intentions that define our choices. With crutches of any kind, the intention is always the same: to indulge in something pleasant instead of acknowledging something unpleasant.
It’s only in acknowledging our true intentions that we’re able to understand our needs—and that’s the first step to meeting them.
I am someone who needs to explore and engage with the world. I need to be curious, and social, and active. I also need plenty of time to simply be, whether I’m meditating in a park or unwinding in the steam that feels like home.
We all have multifaceted needs, and we all lose touch with them from time to time. This means we have to be willing to check in and ask ourselves: What do I need right now? And am I addressing it or hiding from it?
Photo by Wonderlane