Dear reader, I spent the week with Izzy in Salt Lake City where she attended a chamber music workshop at the University of Utah. We stayed in a pretty little house close to campus, and of the many things I could say about the experience, here's one I didn't see coming: how remarkable it is to have time alone in a place that is unfamiliar, quiet, and still. Once Izzy was off to her classes each day, there were no distractions--no family or friends (beyond a wonderful day spent with Sophie), no puppies or praying mantises, no duties or particular errands, no house to half-heartedly clean.
You really cannot imagine all the things I accomplished!
My mind was so clear, my energy so focused! I spent hours studying, revising my novel, reading, and painting...and it was glorious. All week long I tried to understand why it felt so different, so revolutionary and new. One could argue I often have nearly the same access to nearly the same experience at home. But this week I learned what a difference it makes to be away from home, in a place where no one knows you, no one needs you (disregarding mornings and evenings with Izzy), and time suddenly, truly becomes your own.
It's that notion of time, I think, the quality of it all. It seems a true luxury, perhaps even a miracle, to be given time in a way that makes it feel infused with more time, the way your capacity to breathe seems to deepen when the air is fresh and sweet, out in the middle of nowhere.
I've been mesmerized by accounts of writers like Truman Capote, who were often invited by wealthy patrons to spend a month in some stately mansion in the woods or by the sea. I've wondered about the creative potential of such retreats, the idea of serious emphasis being placed on making things, how it would feel to have one's work so highly regarded such accommodations would be made for it to flourish.
Well, this was my retreat. I must say it caught me completely off guard, but twenty minutes in I realized: dear me, I do believe this is a retreat!
Once I got over the shock of it all, I began to breathe it in.
It seems to me everyone should have such an experience, even if just for one week.