Freedom and Confusion (Two Perfectly Acceptable Emotions After a Retreat)
When I drive back into the mouth of the South Toe River Valley my eyes have to swell just to take it all in. Over-exposed to air conditioning and the elegant simplicity of the shrine room all weekend from the meditation retreat, it’s no surprise that the big, bright world out there hits me right at the heart.
I play Josh Ritter through the car stereo and cry all the way home.
Never mind that whatever storylines my tortured mind could conjure about Keller were spinning webs of self-conscious bullshit in my head all weekend. Never mind that I wanted to retch as I walked out the front door of the meditation center after watching him scoot in closer to another woman at our post-retreat reception. He leaned into their conversation as if peering into a beautiful well. I know this because it’s the same way he leaned into me back in February, March, and April. Cheerful Shambhala Day, I think to myself, cynically. Hah, Eskimo kisses….stupid me.
I own nothing of this man and that’s not really what I was going for in the first place. I will confess, however, that I seem to have an unfortunate knack for attracting men, lately, who think in ways that are unimaginable to me. And so I curse myself for thinking there ever could have been more. I curse myself for wanting anything in the first place. I curse myself for not being able to let go – even after I see there’s nothing there for me to hold on to. In other words, I curse myself for being human.
In mediation practice we learn techniques that encourage the mind to interrupt itself when it falls into habitual patterns. These techniques all require at least a good night’s sleep and a particular kind of gentleness – both of which I lacked all weekend.
Which is how I can start writing about the mountains that I love, get up from my desk in the middle of a paragraph just to stare at the night sky, then drag myself back kicking and screaming to reckon with the page. One. Honest. Word. At. A. Time.