The end of spring break means different things for different people. For some, it’s a chance to venture through West Philadelphia without a heavy jacket again. Others won’t want to go outside at all as their week-long drinking binge turns into an even longer hangover. A handful realize that finals are now only seven short weeks away and find new motivation to study. And many freshman boys will start dreaming of the quiet and civility of Van Pelt as the fraternities they’ve pledged start taking both their sanity and dignity.
Pledging season is now in high gear. For me — a survivor of the process — nearly everything triggers a flashback: costumes on the walk, my frat house and even the office building where I work.
My office brings back memories because of an event where I ended up more or less living out of the building for several days. It turned into a fortress, doubling as my temporary home, a place I left only for a handful of classes. It became my sanctuary, allowing me to hide out during pledging. But the sense of security went beyond the literal walls. In there, the threats I was running from couldn’t find me. A year and a half later these threats may have different forms, but they’re still looking for a way in.
We all have our sanctuaries. No, not our Blarney or our Smoke’s; not the places where the more mundane aspects of our lives simply take a hiatus and recede to white noise, but a place where the rest of our lives stop at the door. At least, I hope we all do.
Whether a cramped office, a secluded corner of Pottruck, or even an empty stretch of sidewalk on the way home, we need these places. The circumstances in which we find them may not be a fraternity task, but by shutting everything out, we can restore our minds to their clear-headed selves, separating all the facets of our lives, ensuring they don’t collapse into one confusing — and possibly troubling — narrative. Otherwise, we'd spend too much time trying to untangle those varied threads of our minds, only to look up and see them knot tighter as we go about our daily routines. Our sanctuaries help us stop and untie the strings, preventing them from looping around us more and more, until we become helpless, reduced to watching our lives become more chaotic than those of the most hassled of pledges.
Even if you’re not going through all the pledging rollercoaster, find your sanctuary and savor it. Believe me, it will help you make it through.