Jan 15, 2009

retreat part 1: shhhh

It's QUIET. Quiet so loud you can hear it. There were almost 100 people at the retreat, all not talking, all not reading, all not writing, all not listening to music, all being as outwardly and inwardly still as they possibly could. You sort of descend in to stillness, like going down in to a deep well. At first it was a scary prospect. I wondered if I'd suffocate down there, without words. But it turns out that the air down deep is cool and live. It's refreshing not to have to make small talk, or be pleasantly entertaining, or talk when you feel down, or explain yourself if you just feel like leaving dinner early.

I did get a bit word-starved at first. I found myself reading the label on my toothpaste over and over, without even meaning to. And of course, there were difficult moments in the retreat, when I was upset or scared, and I wished that I could talk, but in the end, I'm glad that I was on my own. I think that in a difficult moment, we all want someone to tell us that everything will be OK. It's comforting, but have you ever noticed how quickly that comfort evaporates? When there is nobody to reassure you, to tell you that you are all right, you are forced to look at your problem head on. And when you do that, it's never quite as bad as you thought.

Perhaps you can handle anything that comes your way, by yourself. Perhaps you are much stronger than you think.

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