When I left the Shalom retreat in October I knew I would be challenged as I went back in the world, back into the spaces where I did not feel comfortable. And soon, Sandy hit and forced me to spend lots of time alone, and with others doing things I didn’t expect. If it wasn’t for Shalom, and the work I had done all year, being at home with no electricity for 7 days would have done a number on me.
See, I’m always thinking, lots and lots of thoughts. The thoughts are better now so it’s easier to spend time with them. But in those 7 days of no electricity, just lots of candles, especially at night, all I had was myself. And those, thoughts again. The first few days were a struggle, and the hardest to avoid beating myself up. Somehow I had figured this was purposely inflicted on myself. If I had only moved, if I had never come back, rang true for me. Then I started to get more awake, and felt an inner peace. By the 3rd day I was watching my thoughts. Not stuffing them down or away, but laying with them for hours. There was no TV, or books, internet or idle chatter. And please, there’s only so much reading you can do 24/7. After a while, my eyes didn’t want to see another word!
I laid in bed with my thoughts. And in that space, I felt more control of my life than I did a week before, a month before. I actually picked my thoughts, stayed with the ones that felt good, explored them. I soothed myself from the anxiety of being without light or cell phone and all the clients that needed to talk to me yesterday. I kept my space clean, my body clean and treated myself well. I interacted more with my family and we even played a few games. As several days passed, and going to bed early happened naturally, we got our light back. Then, something else happened.
The little distractions crept back in my life. Email. Phone. Facebook. TV. Deadlines. People. They depleted the energy I had gained in the dark and gave my brain stuff to feed on all day. Simple or less is really more for me. I missed NOT having the electricity because of how it allowed me to be without distraction or problem-making, just be. The challenge for me now is riding the waves of all the distractions of my life, and remembering that surrender is really as easy as turning off the lights.