SOLITUDE RETREAT: PART II
Some of you know that I recently went on a solitude retreat; five days by myself to read, ride and write. I have been encouraged to do so for years, not because anything is wrong, but simply to allow time to find the essence of the soul and develop clarity of purpose. While there in the hills and meadows of the Meramec River, I came away with some important insights about what it takes to live a meaningful life. For the next five blogs I will share excerpts from my journal. What follows is what I discovered, and I urge you to take a similar journey. Until you do, maybe some of my learning will help. Happy Trails!
One of the benefits of maturity is knowing more. We learn in school, we learn from mistakes, we learn from others’ mistakes and we learn from what we read, listen to and study. The older we are, the more chances we have had to learn. I love learning and believe when you stop learning you stop living.
Most days I feel pretty knowledgeable. I am comfortable in what I do and am good at it. Helping clients see what they don’t see on their own—missed opportunities and how to overcome obstacles—to achieve high performance is what I do best. It may seem hard to others but it comes pretty easily to me. I don’t have to get outside my comfort zone much. So this trip was a chance to push the envelope–and I learned something very important.
First, there is nothing uncomfortable to me about going away for a week to read, think and write. I love to do all three. I am inspired by creative ideas and finding the time to fine tune them and write about them. Easy!
But going away with a horse (that I have to feed and care for in good and bad weather), pulling a horse trailer (which I haven’t done in 30+ years) and being by myself with no support system if something goes wrong, now that was uncomfortable. It took us two hours to load Sanka—he didn’t want to go on this little retreat. I have many bruises to show for it. (He didn’t cause them; I leaned on the trailer ledge for leverage a few times). I had to drive slowly—partly because it was new and partly because I wasn’t sure how well my son’s GMC Envoy would tow. There were times we were doing 45 mph going uphill on the interstate. I was the one who people honked at, gestured to (I think they were pointing but for some reason not using their pointer fingers!) and occasionally provided a wave of encouragement to. While I had help loading Sanka, I would have to unload him by myself and care for him 24/7 when we got there. Could I do it? I didn’t know—but I intended to find out. I was willing to be uncomfortable for the sake of learning and growing. I knew he would add considerably to my experience—I wanted to read, write AND ride.
If I never make myself uncomfortable am I really growing? I can read lots of new stuff, attend seminars and workshops, and even exchange ideas with other thought leaders. But until I do something not just new but unusual, until I challenge the status quo, until I examine my beliefs I have nothing more to offer others than I did before…except platitudes and rhetoric. Being uncomfortable is a normal part of tackling new things—stretching the body, mind and spirit. I have been comfortable far too long.
I commit to being uncomfortable regularly, to continue to grow through new thoughts and experiences, to readily accept new challenges—and to share that expertise and experience with those it can help. My bucket list is changing and I am excited to see what the next few months bring!
How comfortable are you? What do you want to do about it?