Everyone has a few places on this earth they consider special. People get a certain feeling when they are there, like putting on a pair of old comfortable shoes or being plugged into a charge of energy. Memories, emotions, physical sensations – these places stir them all up, creating a divine craving to return often. For me, it’s an old football stadium.
This past weekend I went to the football stadium of my alma mater. It’s just a spring scrimmage, but it’s a Huge Deal every year. This thing is more than just a sporting event. It’s an excuse to “be there”, to bask in the aura and the atmosphere, to get lost inside the experience.
I went to college there, so did my husband, my dad, and so many other people in my family. I was in the marching band, and I feel a certain attachment to the field. My husband was also in the marching band. The football team has a tremendous tradition and connection with the state’s culture. One of my top favorite foods in the universe is served right there in the stands. My daughters have now all been to the stadium and I’m passing down the tradition. I’m telling you, this place is “it” for me.
It’s like therapy when I go. It’s such a huge structure, so much potential for me to be part of something so big. Of course, there aren’t many opportunities to get the full experience during the year. Only six or seven football games and the Spring Game. I don’t care if it’s snowing, raining, foggy, icy, windy, or perfectly clear – it’s no ordinary day when I go to the stadium.
I can scream at the top of my lungs and no one will care. I can complain about a bad call with thousands of others and no one will care. I have experienced a wide range of emotions including tears of joy and tears of sorrow. I have my own unique experiences as a fan, but I am part of a rocking crowd on an emotional roller coaster. And yes, it is likely that I will cry sometime during the day, usually when the band warms up.
When the day is done, I’m tired, overwhelmed with emotion, and I’ve seen many people I know. I find myself aching to be there when my schedule doesn’t work out for me to go. It’s not just following the team or watching the game on TV, it’s being “there” that fills my soul. There is no substitute and I know I will never tire of it.
You don’t have to be a big football fan to see how the experience of being in the stadium fills so many needs for me. Free expression of emotion, connection with others, memories, attachment to past experiences, being a part of something bigger than me, a full distraction from any other stress I may have. There are other places that I cherish and that fill my needs in different ways. The Tetons in Wyoming and Glacier National Park in Montana are peaceful and fill me with awe. Florida is about freewheeling fun and family traditions.
I really need these places in my life, as much as air and water. I know I need to feed my soul like that to feel fully human. These places make me feel alive, charge up my batteries, and make me more hungry for life. Fortunately, I can make it to a few games each year more often than Florida or Montana. This Spring Game was an oasis in the desert of my calendar. Only five more months to go before kickoff of the season opener, the chance to return to my idea of “heaven on earth”.
So what places do it for you? Where do you feel your most open, free, alive, happy in your own skin?