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After spending the last ten weeks writing about my experience on retreat, I have arrived at an interesting moment in which I find myself asking: Do I have anything left to say about anything?

I know that sounds hyperbolic, but in so many ways, the retreat experience pares life down to the absolute essentials:

There is just this.

It’s just a thought.

Be here now.

Seems like a wrapped kind of deal, huh?

Well, there is theory, and then there is application.

At some point, the retreat metabolizes in some way, and then you find yourself angry at someone tailgating you, or annoyed that you can’t find the packing tape, or a thousand other tiny grievances that can seem as large as the world itself.

I am lost in thought most of the time. Hell, even as I’m typing these words, I am thinking things like Who gives a damn other than you about your navel gazing? and It’s just about time to make breakfast and holy shit am I hungry and Oh yeah I gotta pay my cell phone bill.

Yeah I know, it’s just a thought. Yeah I know, there is just this, blah blah blah.

So, what now?

Everything is humming along. The news from the wider world is distressing and overwhelming. And I still have my work to do.

I learn this week about a dear friend whose sister is dying. Suddenly, the world seemed a narrower, darker, more immediate place. My heart aches for him, for his whole family. I picked up the phone and left him a voicemail that may seem trite, and I mean every word. I love and care about and miss and feel sad for him. I started thinking about the family I still have left – people I love, and with whom I connect far less often than I do.

Again – life being pared down to the essentials.

Yes indeed, there is just this – the world as it is, and the story I tell myself about it. My friend and his sister. The beautiful sunset at the pond the other night. The war in Ukraine. The first purple finch of the season. There is this never-ending flow of thoughts, and the follow up intentions and motivations, that all appear out of nowhere, vying for position in the front of the queue. And here ‘I’ am – whatever that means, right? – making choices about how and where to spend my time and attention.

None of us is alone in this wondering, in this strange place between wanting to communicate and wanting to hide. And I sure as hell ain’t no life coach – I’m just a wondering, wandering soul too, doing the best I can to cultivate peace and connection in my own moment to moment experience. And I have found that sharing helps. Even when I’m feeling afraid and vulnerable. Especially so, in fact.

So, what now?

Publish this post, finish my coffee, eat breakfast, work on my various creative projects, go for a walk, play with the neighbors’ dogs, watch the bird feeder, continue to find those delicate balances between wisdom and trust, openness and resistance, gratitude and desire, truth and illusion.

And linger at the pond, and squeal with excitement at that first purple finch.