Yep, omphaloskepsis. That’s a new word I got from jed. High-falutin’ way of saying “navel gazing.”
That’s what I’m supposed to be doing, starting Saturday and going through the end of the year. I’ve gotten several nice messages wishing me “Happy Hermitting.” I’ll be here for you if you need me. I’ll be thinking of you. I hope you find what you’re looking for. Many of the messages are tinged with envy — busy parents and full-time workers and people with a thousand other commitments wishing they, too, could have a retreat.
I agree it’s a privilege. Absolutely.
The very fact that so many people care about this and wish they could do something similar themselves inspires me to want to do it well (even as I realize that having a goal — something to do well at — might run counter to the purpose).
Two days before beginning, I’m still not sure what I’m aiming for. Or how to go about getting there. Or how to go about just “being there” as the case may be.
One friend wrote about a week he spent away from home, doing something he’s absolutely passionate about. During that week, he was not just away from home but away from what passes for the real world. Didn’t hear a bit of news. Had no idea what was happening outside the little realm he and his equally enthusiastic companions created.
He was totally immersed and totally content. Contentment faded when he returned, though. The world closed in again. “I don’t know how to ‘do’ just a little ‘world,'” he wrote. “Seems like it’s all or nothing.”
Same here, which is one reason I worry about being able to do this right.
I have to assure those who imagine I’m going to quit blogging and disappear. I’m not. I understand why someone would think that because on the face of things, that’s actually the right way to do it: total withdrawal, total immersion.
I will be here blogging. Maybe a little less often, but no disappearance. A living must be earned and (I look around at the snoozing dogs and cat and see no volunteers) it appears I’m the member of the household who’s going to do it. Besides, you guys here are vital to me.
I’ve also committed to help keep The Zelman Partisans going, and after such a great start with such great people, I’m not going to be the one who lets that effort falter. (Thank heaven for such an energetic bunch to work with!)
So my retreat won’t be my disappearance. Some might not even notice.
A part of me wishes it were otherwise. That part of me would like to close the computer tomorrow night and not open it again until New Year.
Moderating my computer time, moderating my email time, moderating my time connected to the world just isn’t something I’m good at. As my friend observed, “I don’t know how to ‘do’ just a little ‘world.'”
But then, this is precisely what I need to learn. One can walk completely away from the everyday for a weekend, a week, a month, or a year. One can practice omphaloskepsis in solemn silence on a mountaintop or in a cave or in a Sedona, Arizona New Age resort. But eventually one has to return to reality. And does a year of airy, unreal serenity impart what you need to know to deal with that?
The real trick (it seems to me, standing here at the brink with a complete lack of expertise and direction) is learning how to be in the midst of reality without succumbing to its most negative brain-eating forces.
Sometimes that trick seems harder than juggling six flaming swords, three live cats, a vat of acid, and a career all at the same time.