We begin our trek home today. I am torn, I know that I have to return to the life I have, the life that I am lucky to have, but I am also wanting, needing, further retreat. I need to find a way to take what I found here with me. To slow the pace, the cadence of my life so that I am at the center of it. Seems like the life I am returning to doesn’t really allow for that. Or perhaps that is just ego created propaganda that I have created and now believe as truth.
The changes that I need and want to make feel large and unwieldy. They seem like a lot to ask of me when I already have so much to do. But I need and want to do it differently so I know that I will find a way.
Part of returning, has to be an appreciation for the place you used to dwell, the cadence and routine. I am looking forward to seeing my other pets, happy to have spent this time though coming to know my dogs better. I miss the goats and the cats. My daughter misses her horse. It is a good return.
I also miss my home. This place that I have worked so hard to create, to carve out of the place that I purchased. Money being the thing that allowed the home to be created, but love and hard work have made it mine. Made it home. Made it a sanctuary that I often do not respect and all too often turn it into a prison of my own making. I want to return home to the place that I am lucky enough to live.
My town. There are many people who would love to live in Ojai. To call this little valley home. I am lucky again. To be able to return to a place where my whole world is held with beauty and grace. I live in a place that is full of wonder, natural beauty, good people, community. I live in a place that is pretty idyllic considering my other options in today’s world.
What I am feeling this morning is that while retreat is nice, it is not a way to live life. One cannot retreat from everything and everyone and still call that living. Well maybe you can but I am pretty sure that is called monastic living and that a whole other calling. That is a retreat of a different nature. And one that I do not care to come to know myself. No I am a householder. I hold my house, my home, my life. Always seeming to struggle to bring more retreat into my life and less house holding. But perhaps I have gotten this wrong. Perhaps my struggle has always been this idea that retreating was better, that retreat was THE way. Now I see that retreat is just the same but different. I do not have to leave my home to retreat, I can retreat right where I live. I can make my home the best and most amazing retreat, it is all in how I live my days. My hours. My minutes.
Returning is a good thing. The life I have, my normal everyday life is not some weird accident that I am trying to escape from...no, it is the life I have worked hard to create. It is my home. The stable basis for this life I live. This idea of home a wonderful place to return.
But what I can do is bring the two concepts together in union: returning and retreating. Why must one stop and the other begin. Can I not live at home in retreat? Can I not return to the daily living with the mindset of retreat?
It is no good at all to escape from life only to return to all the things you escaped from to then jump back into the fray, all the lessons of retreat forgotten and gone. No, it is still better to combine the two. To create a space where I live by returning to retreat. Find a place in my day where retreat, rest, respite and repose are all parts of my daily life. I can return but I can do it better. I can and so I will.
Returning is hard for me. I am a leaver. A great manifester of new things, new places and new ideas. I have spent the first half of my life, always leaving for a new adventure. Always leaving, never returning. Except, I have always tended to live the same place twice. My life and its trajectory returning me to states of living twice perhaps to give me another try to learn that which I ran away from before...a second chance to see that the only thing that I have ever really run away from is myself. The places were not the issue. And again it feels like I might be the only one that is still figuring this out.
So I do not drag my feet today as we pack up to go...I do not reluctantly put my things in the car. I, instead, hold retreat in my heart and head and bring it with me to share with all that I am returning to. The life I have, the life I get to live. The life that I have grown while I was away.
Seems that no matter how much older I get, I am forever learning the lesson of that wherever I go there I am. I am here in this life, living, loving, retreating and returning. I have so much to be grateful for and this time in retreat has provided me with a renewed purpose, a renewed pleasure and a renewed sense of whose life it is I am living. Retreat is nice but so is returning...so I will endeavor to do them both regardless of where I am.