I’ve just come back from a four day solo retreat at a rustic cabin, on a remote lake accessible only by canoe. I went there to reconnect with being. In order to reconnect with being, I had to disconnect from doing. I had to step away from projects, and staying busy, and jumping up to do the next thing. I wanted to remove myself from knowing the time, and where I needed to be at what time. I didn’t want to have to respond to others’ needs, or care about the news. Bye bye phone.
The first full day was a struggle. It stretched loooong. I was bored, and it was educational observing myself cope with that. I craved a cigarette, even though I’ve never been a smoker. I thought of smoking pot, considered drinking, thought about making coffee—all chemical means to avoid my inner awareness. I did not have my usual paper piles to deal with or phone calls to make, no work email, no internet. There were no home repair projects, no laundry or grocery shopping. I did not bring books to fill up my time and distract me. The dense, buggy woods had no hiking trails.
That left a lot of sitting around, laying around, thinking, trying not to think. I wondered how many days it would take for my mind to run through every likely groove? I practiced patience, relaxation, unknown nothingness, allowing. I did a whole lot of Nuthin. Stared into space.
Planning and doing are activities that Western culture not only rewards, but encourages to the exclusion of other parts of ourselves. We are given little license for timelessness, free-association, being. I have been coming back to this split over and over during my life. It’s so easy to get caught up in the doing, and lose my sense of being. Following a brain injury from chemo, even small amounts of focused doing are exhausting. Why can’t I just accept this gift and let my artist-self out of the box?
I was sitting on the shore of the lake, examining this split, when a loon surfaced on the water about 60 feet away. It called, several times, the sound of its beautiful flute flowing across the water and resonating on the rocks. Stunning. Through my mind it voiced these words about air and water, about doing and being:
You must dive deep for your food. This is what will nourish you. At certain times you must take to the air, to travel to the next lake, to migrate for the season. But that movement is always to the next place of food and nourishment, which is deep in the water, which is deep in the Universe.
If you spend all of your time in the air, you will not be nourished, you will not thrive and reproduce your energy. You will become weak. You know this. Pay attention to where you are traveling. In the air, in the water, they are both important but for different reasons.
You cannot stay in the deep water. You must come up for air, you must surface to survive. You see, it is all important, but in different ways. This is the path for you––balance and awareness.
I am thinking that one way I could help myself is to schedule fairy time, time in the Dream World, the Spirit World. I cannot just hope to find time among all the other things that are getting my attention. Like taking this retreat. I need to do this on a regular basis, not wait until I’m burnt out. And each of my days need to have this component, in at least equal energy allotment. It is helpful to think of it as air and water, and consider what it is that being in either element brings to my life.
It is important to enjoy each element, not just use it for practical purposes. If you are not enjoying it then it is not worth doing.
I tend to think that there are a lot of tasks that just need to get done. The list grows and grows, until it takes over my time and energy. That is giving the Planner too much authority.
The planner is like the ego. It carries out the tasks that you give it. It takes energy and moves it in a linear way. The Fairy is the Dreamer, it expands to hold space and allow new energy to come in. You are both of these, and you are also bigger than these. You are the Yin and the Yang of this energy movement, and you are the whole. When you focus only on the doing, you are out of balance.
Be the circle, and everything in it. Then see the circle in the bigger picture, outside of Time. Decide to occupy Space, not Time.
Then the loon flapped its wings along the surface of the water and lifted itself into the sky, heading for the next lake.