Back home, back to work at the hospital today, back to the office tomorrow. A little sleep-deprived, but rejuvenated at the same time. Two days of travel with a little adventure and a little soul-searching thrown in did wonders for the spirits here at Farandwee. What a wonderful way to get a little distance, and yet to feel as if I’m engaging directly with the reality one step deeper than the daily grind. Traveling strips away the mundane, focuses the mind, makes a clear, crisp line between the static and the music, one might say. Every time I head out for a couple of days I am refreshed by it, and come back with a new kind of insight—usually more flexible than when I left, but always different.
I’ve always loved traveling but never before to an extent where it felt philosophically necessary. I’ve always been able to manufacture my own distance, my own vantage point from which to look over my own shoulder at my world. Recently, though, it seems that I need to take longer steps back, not to achieve greater emotional detachment, but to see more. As I get older and my experiences begin to snowball and morph into groups and patterns that suggest truth, I find that some of those patterns can take up my whole field of inner vision. Something about shaking the dust off my actual feet and heading out by myself to some actual place makes it easier for me to get to that inward Big Sky state, where the horizons are very far from each other and the spaces between them clear and open. I don’t necessarily set out on a trip with the goal of mulling over matters internal, but somewhere along the line it seems to happen, naturally and easily, filtering between the minutiae of itineraries and GPS and menu browsing. Best of all, I think, is the mulling at the beginning and end of the day, when the rhythm of thinking is indistinguishable from the rhythms of breathing and feeling. And solo, in a strange place, is the best way to feel those rhythms and to follow their intangible directions.
I’m fascinated by the way I cling to and create opportunities for solitude now that I have a new family sharing my space. I find that I am unwilling to part with the peace that comes with being alone, and that I am unable to experience that peace without a significant amount of physical space as a buffer. What’s a girl to do, in a tiny house full of people and animals and object and noise? Why, travel! Hotel rooms are quiet and empty, and it only takes a couple of days to recharge and step back and take a deep breath before re-entering the swirling tides of reality. This introvert needs both to thrive—the bustle and activity of being around people and the calm required to recover and process.
More than halfway through my life, I am learning how hard it is to recognize my own requirements, especially when there are others whose requirements are—on the surface—much more pressing and immediate. I think this awareness of continuing to need solitude is an important piece of the puzzle for me. I think the connection between the freedom of travel and the mental liberation of being uninterrupted and alone is another. And the connection between having that freedom and being fully engaged at home is turning out to be significant. Balancing, balancing, balancing…is what keeps things interesting!
©Mary Braden 2013