I just came back from a vacation, the first real, honest-to-pete, traveling just for the pleasure of exploration and bonding with one another that my partner and I have had the opportunity to enjoy together in years, most of our trips being family visits or retreats that we’re working at or quickie one-night getaways around Colorado. All of these, mind you, are normally both fun and fulfilling, but five days on the beach, letting our eyes rest on the waves in varying shades of blue rolling gently up onto the shore, well … It’s a different animal.

The holiday season this year left me feeling emotionally stirred up, at times very frustrated, and in the end unsure of myself and how I am supposed to respond to the world around me, with some degree of accompanying anxiety or malaise or depression — whatever you want to call it — the intensity depending on the day. But as our departure on this trip was set for New Year’s Day, I held the intention that the days “off the network” would be a way to hit the “Reset” button on my life. Like any good vacation should, the time away inserted a pause into my usual routines, interrupted habits (hopefully productively), gave me some space to see where changes could be helpful. There were a few main areas that kept floating to the surface like buoys bobbing on the ocean, just far enough out that it takes a hard swim to touch them.

One of those areas was busy-ness.

When I look back on the times when I’ve felt frustrated with my life in 2015, felt like I was spinning my wheels, like I didn’t know where my life was going or what my purpose was or who I was helping with my existence, those were often the times when I had gotten to feeling cramped, overcommitted, hemmed in, stuck in a self-created cage.

I am blessed to have a full time job and an abundance of activities to fill my time. Only thing is, I sometimes find myself filling my time so full that there is no room for dreams to grow. I guess I am restless both geographically and spiritually, and when my life gets so crowded that I can’t find a pathway out of the hustle, I start to have breakdowns.

I’ve already gone through a process of letting go of things that I’ve outgrown or that aren’t making me happy. I’m down to the things I’ve held on to because I love them. But I understand that I need to make some difficult choices now and let go some more — let go of some of the things that actually do feed me — because when a garden becomes choked, even with nourishing plants, it becomes harder and harder for anything to grow.

And there are things I want to grow. Solitude. Quiet meditation. Writing.

So on the updraft of Reset, I will be practicing this letting go, looking for a new balance that includes more space for my dreams to grow in.

As I have the goal of bringing writing from the sidelines to the forefront of my life, I’ve been thinking not only about what needs to be rearranged for it to fit, but also —

What do I have to say? What is the purpose of my talking at all? Questions that require silence to explore. And there were other questions that arose as well, in these beginnings of mental space, questions about my outlook, my role as a writer, as an observer and commentator, as a scholar outside the academy, as a witness to and participant in culture. (Some of these I will talk about in more detail in the next post — I started to go into it here, but the tangent got too long and split into its own separate essay, oops!)

I’ll be delving into these questions in the weeks to come. And if I find anything out,

I’ll let you know.

Funny how traveling brings the gaze right back to the self. Wherever we go, there we are, right? So what’s in this bag that I can’t help bringing everywhere with me?

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