There are things and places that we feel most comfortable being and doing, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz in his book “Onward” theorised this place as being our “third place”. A book I highly recommend you all go and read if you get the chance its not just a bit of well written glorified marketing material, but really allows you to the world through his eyes.
This third place is the place you go to outside of your home or place of work where you go to just be. Away from all your responsibilities the place you can go to focus on yourself and what is important to you.
You want to know where my third place is, it’s where I can go and think, for many years it was any basketball court I could find that was quiet, out of the way and where I could just do my thing. Doing what I loved, shooting hoops, practising my layups, working on my jump shot….whatever I fell in love at a young age with the sport of basketball. Not just because of my height (2 meters / 6ft 6 inches) don’t get me wrong it helped but, it was never the cause of why I fell in love with it. I fell in love with it because of what it gave me, a place no one could ever take away. A feeling unlike any other, a place that I could go to be on my own and make perfect sense of the world. It was freeing…hell it was my own bit of heaven, my third place…my fucking nirvana. It was a place that I could push myself whist doing something as rhythmic and easing as bouncing a basketball. Somewhere, where the only person that could judge me was me.
Now I promised you that these future posts would all in some way relate back to my life living with Aspergers Syndrome. How I would be standing in the shadow of my former selves, this is actually something that I miss and it’s how I dealt with things in my life and coped with them. The funniest thing is that I did it without even realising why I did it. Just knowing that doing it made me happy and gave me focus, it was my place my basketball, a courtyard and a hoop. Whenever things got too hard and I needed to gain some perspective. Be it at school or at home, I would go there and play no matter the weather including pelting rain, growing up in the English countryside it rained quite a bit. I loved it so much I went to basketball camp two years in a row, with people I didn’t know and having never been taught how to play the game properly. Trust me I was shooting two-handed for the longest time. Hey, I was 13 at the time, and basketball isn’t one of those sports that was taught or played at many schools in the British countryside.
So my first year at basketball camp, needless to say, I was the worst player at camp when I arrived. This was a week of playing basketball every day from 7 am till 6pm and I loved every second of it. But I came out it dramatically improved and was awarded the player with the best attitude and the most improved player awards.
But those are stories for another time, I have gone massively off topic but it just goes to show HOW important these third places are. Sometimes they can even propel us to go out of our comfort zones and into new experiences where we can grow and develop. For anyone, but especially if you’re in some way Autistic, I encourage everyone to find these places and visit them at least once a week. Even if it’s in your mind’s eye, just let your mind drift off and transport you to where ever it might take you. For me it’s a basketball court that no longer exists, in a place I haven’t been in a long time but it doesn’t have to exist anymore I can still go there anytime I want. I just close my eyes and like Dorothy I am transported there in my mind’s eye, holding something physical helps as well. Okay….its not quite the same but still you get the idea, it takes you out of where you currently are and to a place where you can make sense of the world.
Now for those of you who have seen “Ready Player One” or have a Virtual Reality headset, will know that this 3rd place doesn’t have to be in the physical realm it can be in the virtual. I said in my post “My Digital Prision” that these two realms were moving ever closer together. I will still say that you should avoid getting locked into the digital realm, as it is a prison regardless of the comfort of it, and the worst thing is that it’s a world where the laws of reality do not exist regardless of how real it looks, sounds or feels. But by all means experience, it just do so with care, as it is addictive and like many drugs, it’s designed to keep you hooked always wanting a new fix.
This third place has to connect with you in some way or another and we all have at least one if not several of them, be in in the arms of a loved one or on the top of a mountain. It’s whatever and wherever connects with you, and it’s something that no one can ever take away no matter how hard they might try.