Just before COVID slapped all of us silly in the face, a friend of mine traveled to southeast Asia for an extended visit. One of her first stops was a retreat place of sorts in Cambodia? Thailand? Myanmar?, one of those countries. What was unique about this particular retreat is that it was silent. You didn’t speak with anyone. Phones weren’t allowed. You couldn’t bring any kind of reading material. You just spent time completely with yourself. If you believed in God, you could pray.
What I found most interesting was that my friend — who is naturally convivial and outgoing — said it was one of the best things she had ever done in her life. In fact, she said she wished she could do it annually. I would have thought it would drive her crazy, which is exactly what it did at the beginning. And then she found peace and contentment.
Praying is what I would have done. I would have prayed that all of this was a bad dream and that I would wake up to discover I had fallen asleep reading a good book. Unlike my friend, I am not natural convivial and outgoing. I can enjoy dinner with friends and be perfectly chatty. Then, however, it is time for me to go home and be quiet and recharge my energy. But being quiet for days at a time? Without a book? NO CAN DO.
I used to think that I would love to live out in the country where I would have a huge garden. In the fall, I would can all of my fruits and vegetables for the winter. I would put potatoes and carrots in my root cellar. The same cellar where I would hide when the inevitable tornado made its regular appearance. I thought I could be Caroline Ingalls ALL THE WAY.
I am thankful that I came to my senses before I sold everything I owned to buy a house somewhere in rural America and a tractor. Because I would have lost my mind. Even if I had a roomful of books and Bill with whom I could talk, I still would have been extremely unhappy being out in the boondocks.
Who would I have spied on through cracked blinds? Who would have called to tell me that my garage door is open? What would I have done when I was in the middle of making banana bread only to discover that I didn’t have all of the ingredients. I WOULD HAVE HAD TO PLAN AHEAD! Yikes.
It is a rare day when I don’t make a visit to the grocery store. Not doing daily shopping was one of the most difficult parts of our nearly-year-long quarantine during COVID. I tried very hard to limit my shopping to once a week, but I frankly wasn’t very good at it. Planning ahead is not my forte.
At the end of the day, I’m perfectly content to have a house in a neighborhood where there are lots of people with whom to talk. In fact I have two houses in two such neighborhoods. And we are leaving to go from one to another. If you don’t hear from me, trust that I haven’t moved from an urban to a rural setting, and I will soon return.