Today saw a difference to my usual Monday work routine. Mondays are usually my full work from home day, whereas today was a staff retreat day. All of us headed to Amberley Retreat Centre for a day of vision and planning for 2013. A good time shared with colleagues whose company I enjoy, and productive in terms of focusing us collectively for the remainder of the year to come, it was a 15 minute late in the program that challenged me.
We were given the opportunity to spread out amongst the grounds and spend some time in quiet and reflection, as a means to bring some closure to the dreaming that had taken place during the day. I headed straight outside and lay in the lawn in front of the main building, and spent my time starting at the cloudless sky. What I thought was going to be a simple enough task became a more concerted effort, and I came to a realisation: my thoughts are crowded.
I thought reflecting on the day would be an easy idea, however as soon as distractions were left behind, thoughts about anything and everything rushed to fill the space. As I was tried to force my thoughts down the path of walking through the discussions of the day my mind would throw up distractions of many kind: plans of things I want to do to the camper trailer, thoughts of having learnt to weld the previous day, what a fantastic location the grounds would make for a shoot, dinner for the evening, the office/home work balance, traffic on the way home, conversations I want to have with colleagues. It seems that there is a cacophony simply waiting for me to be still enough so it can take over.
Thinking about it in the time since then, I’ve realised that I no longer make any time for quiet in my life. I find myself so scarce of time free from work, Beth, Eli, hobbies, things I want to watch/listen to, reading, friends and family, that finding some time spare quickly goes to one of those other things. They’re not necessarily a good way to spend that time (and I don’t want to think about how many hours/days/weeks I’ve lost to the TV series and movies that have been watched), but there are so many things waiting to fill any of that spare time that there is no intentionality in making that spare time, and making it to be quiet. I’m realising it’s a cycle that I’m revisiting through busy and quiet times in my life, even if that cycle is years in between repetitions. After a hard 15 minutes of mentally wrestling, it’s become clear I just need to make time to be quiet, to be still, and let my mind catch up with the pace of everything else. I need to make time to retreat, not just when work directs me to.