Retreating

I spent the weekend in paradise.

Well. My version of paradise, despite the cool torrents of rain sweeping through for the fifth day in a row, or the Virginia humidity the day after, rising up from the lush, textured, tops of trees that hid the flowing James River.

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In the last week simple things had become hard — a bout of food poisoning making even the easiest of life activities complicated and challenging. Coupled with the dregs of an annual cold, my mind was cluttered with things I had to do, to complete in life, and at work.

Overwhelmed, long stretches of time, and endless hours in the day transitioned into whiplash as I realized we were rapidly heading into the latter days of May.

But here. Here the loud buzzing surrounding me was not the revving of motorcycles or the hum of suburbia, rather it was the sounds of insect life as they emerged from the dampness of seemingly endless rain.

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And while I occasionally stood to dance away from the, admittedly terrifying, thumb sized bees hovering nearby I found the writing easier, smoother, clearer.

A testimony to retreating. To silence. To disconnection.

I won’t lie and say that I’ve managed to get everything done that was necessary. I’ve probably spent more time reading, and thinking, than actually putting thoughts to “virtual” paper.

But I feel re-centered, and for that I am thankful.

However, in retreating I’ve come to ask myself a single question:

Who am I writing for?

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In many ways I write because I have to. When I attend a show, a concert, read a book, or see an exhibition I have a yearning, and a tingling in my fingers that calls for some sort of explanation of feeling. Of why what I’ve seen and consumed has affected me.

Forget pictures. If I don’t write about it, it never happened.

Maybe it’s a fear of mortality. Or the historian who believes that if you write it down it’ll last forever, despite knowing logically that in this virtual world the rules just aren’t the same anymore.

How that manifests in my day to day life, however, is a self-created pressure, a tension that is really another way for me to feel that I am letting myself down. Which just isn’t true.

Perhaps I should take my own advice, which I flippantly dispensed last week during a conversation about social branding. In talking about the importance of doing real-world work to match up with your virtual conversations I said something like “no one cares bout your opinion.”

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It’s a humbling thought and as the breeze brushes past me on this porch where I write these words, I know it is essential. In other words — context matters. I started this blog years ago so that I could talk about myself. But really — it’s become a vehicle for me to talk about how the world has shaped me. My life is built on the histories and work of others. And that I write to recognize that inspiration. On those dreams. On those ideas. So that they can live on far beyond myself. I write, despite the paradox contained within, so that their voices can be heard far beyond my own.

When I first got to this oasis I was warned about an early morning guest. A neighbor’s rooster that started often at 4:30am and occasionally continued on his own special time table – wanting to make sure that he was heard by all those around him.

While I slept on the other side of the house I am taking his morning ritual to heart.

As a wake-up call. To write.

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