One of the reasons this retreat is being difficult is that the schedule tracking portion of my brain will not stay switched off. Occasionally I can be fully present in Tennessee, out in the forest, part of a conversation. But then I’ll happen to glance at a clock and without me bidding it to, my brain does the calculation to Utah time and supplies the fact that at home Howard is helping the kids get out the door to school. This wakes up the portion of my brain that is convinced that I’ve committed gross dereliction of duty by not being present at home to manage the schedule. I’ve left my kids before. I’ve left them for a week before. But I usually arrange for them to be on vacation or visiting with relatives. They are outside the usual schedule as much as I am. This time they are at home, following routine. I am not. But my brain keeps tracking their routine and telling me that I should really check up on homework or bedtime or a dozen other things.
I can’t escape from home thoughts yet home feels so far away. I’m really not sure what conclusion to draw from all of this. I’m not sure how this knowledge should affect future decisions. Does this fall into the “Don’t do that again” camp or is it that I need more practice letting go?
In the category of less conflicted lessons learned: don’t wear ballet flats into the woods, or if you do, spray with mosquito repellent first. The tops of my feet look like I have chicken pox. These bites don’t itch as much as the bites from Utah mosquitoes, but twenty-five bites on my feet is enough to draw notice. Particularly late at night when I’m trying to sleep and thinking about home things instead. I probably should be spending those wakeful hours thinking about plot things. But it feels like an additional dereliction, as if fretting over the home schedule is penance I must pay for not being there. And simultaneously I can also feel guilty because I have this opportunity and I am wasting it by thinking about home instead of thinking about writing fiction.
Over all, this is being good. I hope it is being good. It will take me months to see the results of what coming has begun. Hopefully I’ll be able to step back into my regular schedule and none of us will be sufficiently dinged by this experience that repairs are necessary.