Last week Tam talked about getting out of your usual surroundings to learn something about yourself that you didn’t know or had forgotten. She went on to say that when you take those discoveries back with you, you might find you have changed, perhaps even reincarnated yourself, keeping the important pieces and letting go some of the others.
Her words, as always, rang true.
In fact, I just had such an experience. Last week, I found myself in Spokane, Washington, helping my mother pack up and move over to the coast. I grew up in Spokane, but since our family lake house recently sold, I rented an enchanting little house through airbnb. (A great organization! Check it out if you ever need a home away from home: https://www.airbnb.com )
The tiny house, lovingly transformed from a 384 square foot Washington Water Power substation with a 13 foot ceiling, was furnished with charming antiques and had a courtyard planted with organic berries and vegetables to pick and enjoy. With no Internet access or television, it provided a perfect oasis for me to rest, recharge, center and to get to know myself a little better again. Waking up in the morning and then returning to this one room retreat every evening for a week gently forced me into some new patterns—patterns of simplicity, introspection and a kind of meditative solitude I hadn’t experienced since my days in my little cabin on Orcas Island.
I discovered that I didn’t need to know, moment-to-moment or even hour-to-hour what everyone else was doing or posting. I didn’t need to respond immediately to whatever emails might be in my inbox. I rediscovered that sitting quietly, enjoying a cup of tea, a soft boiled egg and buttered toast or a simple salad and a glass of wine, without conversation, without an open notebook or even a book, was a pleasure and helped me pay attention to the moment, to the smells, the flavors, the temperature of the air, the curl of a leaf in the jug of freshly cut flowers on the table and in paying attention, my thoughts slowed to murmurs instead of the anxious banter that had been circling in there all day.
I rediscovered John Prine among the house collection of CD’s and remembered how much I used to love just sitting and listening to music—how it opens up something in my heart and makes me smile. I even danced by myself around the room, which reminded me that it’s good to be silly sometimes. That such uninhibited freedom can bring joy.
And then when I did finally sit down and open my notebook to write and try to get inside the character in the novel I’ve been working on, I found that not only could I hear my thoughts more clearly, but I could actually slip inside my character's head in a way that I hadn’t been able to do before, perhaps because I was less attached to who I had been and more open to try on another skin.
And now that I’m home, I can feel those discoveries alive in me; I am going to try to be less obsessed with staying constantly Internetedly connected, constantly checking email and searching for unnecessary facts. I am going to try not to feel the need to constantly multi-task. I will try to allow myself more time to sit quietly, to pay attention to what I’m doing. Or not doing. I’m going to try and remind myself to use the Internet as a tool but to not let it become a substitute for real life connecting or experience.
I did, however, just go to iTunes and download some John Prine to dance to when I’m home alone.
Take Good Care,