Craving and Fearing Solitude

I had the opportunity over a long weekend (a wonderful trip to visit my cousin and speak to his ornithology class) to get some reading done.  In the course of the trip, I started and finished Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.

I know I am behind a bit, as almost everyone I know has read it already, but that’s the way it is.

Her travels and search for herself are incredible, she is an amazing woman, and she was unbelievably lucky to get the chance to follow her plan.  Much of the book resonated with me, and I found myself looking forward to my “retreat” later in the month with a combination of longing and dread.

My plan for my writing retreat is simple: spend a few days in a cabin in one of our lovely state parks.  I’m leaving the dog with a friend, there is no TV or Netflix or internet, and I am taking only myself, the gear that I need, and my laptop.  I intend to spend the time sleeping, hiking, reading and (most importantly) writing. 

I need some time for me.  I need to get away from the little voice in my head that reminds me the kitchen needs to be cleaned and the laundry done, away from the to-do lists and the tv shows and the realities of work.  Lately I’ve started feeling like a car that has been hovering close to empty for a long time, with the driver adding just enough fuel occasionally to keep driving.  It’s time for a recharge, a full tank of gas.  This is the source of the craving, the longing for this trip.

The fear part comes in when I realize that I have spent precious little time with myself over the course of my life.  Granted, I’ll have my story characters for company, but this is really and truly free time.  There will be few distractions to keep my brain occupied, and this is going to lead to one of two things.  Either I will find the ability to sit quietly and enjoy the world, or my mind will find ways to pester itself out of boredom.  It’s that second one that scares me.

The fear is not enough, however, to keep me from watching the calendar, waiting for those days of rest.