We All Need a Sanctuary

January 26, 2016 by Tony C. Smith
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I wanted to talk about this subject today because it’s something that is close to my heart, and a number of you out there have been and are affected by it.

But first, I hope you’ll come with me on a little bit of a journey through our District of Wonders.

Have you ever wondered what the District of Wonders actually looks like? For me, the District of Wonders is just a simple tent seen from the outside – picture the one in Harry Potter, its door flapping gently in the breeze allowing glimpses of the wonders within. Peeking inside that tent – that’s where the District of Wonders is for me.

And what is actually in there? Oh the wonders of it, to be sure! Aliens, demons, rockets, monsters, goblins… all of them and more are right there inside, in the District of Wonders.

I also picture Clive Barker’s magical carpet in Weaveworld and all those truly bizarre wonders. Barker was one of the first writers that brought those universes of just rich delight to my imagination. For me, still to this day, Weaveworld is a space where dreams live.

I hope that the District of Wonders is a place like that for you.

But, looking around the District of Wonders, our three podcasts and websites, our “place” is so much more than a just the stories and articles. The way this all started… the way we have grown as a community… the District of Wonders is about us, just as much as it is about the stories and the shows. The dreamers are as important as the dream. No, more important. The District of Wonders is us.

That is the reason… you are the reason, I have carried on running the shows. That’s why I care so much to keep them going. For ten years now, the most frequent response I get to the shows, special events, projects – all of it – has always been that StarShipSofa or Tales to Terrify or Far Fetched Fables has helped people… you… through difficult times in their lives.

Hand on heart, if the District of Wonders helps even one person in a dark time, then it has achieved everything and more than I could ever hope for.

I will tell you a bit of my own story, here. As some of you may know, StarShipSofa has carried me through some difficult times in my own life.

I’ve found working on StarShipSofa to be a great antidote to anxiety – that nasty stuff that has been wrapped around me since…ooooh well… since about 1992. When that took hold… it was only when I started StarShipSofa that I found any real relief.

Throwing myself full into work I love really does cast out a lot of my hang-ups. Sure I can hear it -the anxiety – laughing at me from time to time, scraping at the door, trying to escape and taunt and tease me, but most days I have it locked deep in a basement somewhere here in the District of Wonders.

I know the anxiety is there, but I mostly ignore it. I find, for me, that is the best treatment for anxiety – ignore it. Know it’s there, live with it, but carry on with your life. Sure, from time to time I find it’s there, but I’ve learned how it works and become used to its tricks and taunts. I now live life to the full and, for the most part, it can’t touch me. That’s thanks in a big way to the District of Wonders.

Thinking of how The District of Wonders has really come through for me… You may remember there was the time I fell at work and smashed my skull… quite badly, actually. Put me off work for three months. All this time… my recovery… played out over StarShipSofa. Again, our community’s response was truly life changing for me. If it hadn’t been for all of you, my life would have honestly been so very much different from what it is now.

If this resonates for you… if you live with any of this… be it anxiety or whatever it is… I want you to know that the District of Wonders is here for you. Know that all you have to do is move aside the tent door and come in. Come in… lose yourself in the wonders, the stories… and get in and be a part of the community that’s there.

In the short ten years I’ve been doing this, I’ve heard from so many of you as you negotiate your own bumps in the road of life. Sometimes it’s easy for you, sometimes not so… and again I hope the District can help in it’s own small way.

And I mean this from the bottom of my heart – The District of Wonders will be here for you. We are going to bring out a new ‘thing’ in 2016, all aimed at supporting us when we’re going through difficult times. It might manifest as a blog, or a podcast, maybe just a newsletter, or maybe all three. I would hate to know you are out there suffering with your own physical or mental illness and we didn’t know, listen, or help. Sure there’s no professional medical experience here… but I have been to my own cliffs of despair like so many of us have, and we can share what we have seen and felt, and learned.

What will this new place be? Lets call it the Sanctuary for now. This will be a part of the District of Wonders – a place where respite is offered and support is shared. Yes… there are other places you can get support and discussion like this out there, but the Sanctuary will be our own little haven. Your emails over the years have brought me to this place. It’s there. We need to look after our own.

As we build up the Sanctuary, you may just pop by for a quick pick-me-up, grab information from a blog post, listen to a show every now and then – but anything you find that helps when you are feeling low… that’s what the Sanctuary will be here for. No one in the District of Wonders should feel alone in dark times.

Loneliness is a real plague in this day and age, and I want the District of Wonders to be a place where no one needs to feel alone.

Let me know what you think. If you have a skill that might help us build up the Sanctuary in the District of Wonders, or if you’ve been through the dark yourself at some point in your life – would you want to step into the Sanctuary and help? Please, let us know. If you want to support the District financially – boy that helps as well!


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