On Not Driving Myself Crazy: Everyday Magic, Day 121-122

Just back from 27 hours of mostly solitude in the woods at Shantivanam, the world is clean, wet and cold, but all is well. I walked, rested, collaged, tried to tune the cello, replaced the C-string on the cello, tuned the cello close enough to pick out notes, read, listened to a lot of Pema Chodron tapes, watched part of a cheesy spiritual video narrated by a Shakespearean actor, fast-forwarded the video, read more, ate crackers and coup, played the cello, did a little yoga and mostly slept and stared at the window.

The cold weather that moved in came easy and slow, and I watched and felt some of it last night when I stood in a parking lot, one of the few places where there’s phone reception, and talked to Ken while watching the moon and its pink rainbowy-dreamy ring travel over mackerel clouds. The rain fell. The wind came and went. I sat in some silent prayer and had a few seconds of not thinking about anything. I watched dishes with care. I didn’t check email.

When I pulled away this afternoon, it felt right — a little time to step out of the vibrancy of regular life to the vibrancy of solitude. A little time to consider and just be without trying to know or do. And a lot of time to not drive myself crazy

Solitude is the New Sexy: Everyday Magic, Days 119-120

I love my husband, kids, friends, community, and especially kitty cat, but sometimes a gal just needs to go be far, far away in a place beyond the reach of cell phone, email, animated conversations and peaceful sojourns washing dishes in between driving here and yonder.

So tomorrow I’m slipping off to Shantivanam, a retreat center owned by the Catholic Church, open to all people, and immersed in a beautiful forest on a hill near a small town. It’s also about an hour from home. For many years, I would go there for a few days, then Ken would join me for a weekend of us alone together, and then I would go home and he would stay on for a few days alone. It was our touchstone for peace and replenishment. This year, we went to New York instead, which was great, but every so often I would turn to Ken and say, “I love all this, but the city is so stimulating that I have no time to integrate it all.”

In any case, tomorrow, tomorrow night and a large portion of Wednesday, I’ll be there, in a small cabin in the woods. I’ll walk in the day and especially at night around the woods and into places made sacred by careful attention to making their beauty visible. There will be journals, books, art supplies, and the cello….and hopefully, without access to the outside world and just me myself, the noise in my head will decrease at least 10%, maybe 14%. Here’s wishing us all little spaces to lower the inner volume and let in more quiet.