I am pacing the floor: as in, walking from the counter by the microwave to the wall with the space-heater on it, just beyond the king-sized bed. A half-dozen, a dozen times (how do you count a lap?), and my brain only now forms sentences.
I am watching the sun set out of the no-longer-bright-blue sky; when the sun goes down, the blueness often fades to translucence. Last night the sky was differently translucent—it stayed cloudy all day, sometimes raining, and at sunset the clouds became lambent.
When sitting on the long sofa, everything in front of me is windows, and trees, and the hills beyond. I can tell the hills because the qualities of the trees dip and rise.
Yes, I just finished reading Why Poetry. It’s the 7.5th book I’ve read since Monday at 2pm. I’m experimenting with making my own silent retreat, you see—not quite the dare my spiritual director offered, but not unrelated. Instead of an eremetical (hermit-type) retreat center in south Texas, I’m in someone’s above-garage studio apartment in Driftwood, TX, up the road from the famed Salt Lick. I haven’t been by; it seems counter to my stated purpose to go stand in line for smoked meats. Air BnB’s helpfulness isn’t designed for locals trying to wall themselves away.
2019-06-04: UNSTRUCTURED RETREATING
No instrumentality. There’s nothing to accomplish, even accomplishing nothing.
Silence as no human conversation. Thus no texting, email, social media, or people. Writing is fine; those conversations are too slow to count. Talking to myself is impossible to police.
Movement is going to be important; this is a small space. What about 10,000 steps a day? How about 5000, since you struggle with that even at home?
I keep trying to make frames even now: I thought “unstructured retreating,” and was ready to barrel on reading. Why? Why not pause?
The barest bones have been: from Monday 4th of June at 2pm (check-in time) to Thursday 6th of June at noon (check-out time). As I write this, it’s Wednesday evening.
Before coming, I thought… all sorts of things. That I would leach unpleasant emotions, because I hadn’t time to listen to them during the semester. That I would write reams and reams, or at least type up the poem-drafts I brought with me. That I would meditate upon my vocation/calling, perhaps to chloroform its butterfly self like a Victorian specimen? I’m not sure. That I would continuously read, drawing books out of the two heavy totes crammed with volumes like truffles from a Godiva box.
I was most hungry for the last, and it’s the last I’ve been doing.
I was curious about the former, and I have spent time on it—two of the completed books are vocation-books, as is Why Poetry in its own way. Still, most of what I jotted down from a vocational perspective is that I think of my calling primarily as a set of individual energies launched along a trajectory, and any jobs/positions or tangible outcomes that might coincide are gifts of God’s providing. My friend Jo elegantly described me as a multiplier, with urgency, to which I’m adding illuminator. As in: look at this! And every theo-poetical scrap I encounter fills me with so much glee, or delight, that I get pre-emptively bitter imagining myself pursuing anything else.
It’s not that I don’t have plans, and won’t be planning. You’ve met me. But even if this were a time for accomplishment (which it’s not), energies along a trajectory seems to me to be the most truthful way to scour down to vocation’s nub. The rest is essentially its expression.
‘Tis a gift to come down where we ought to be. The sky has returned itself to blue, my favorite darkest blue with secret greenness, as the remains of the past sun’s orange barely remain above the far trees. Silence lasts another fifteen hours; it’s bed-time.