“What did you do this weekend?”
“Oh, I went on a solo retreat Upstate NY.”
“Oh, what inspired it?”
“I’ve wanted to go for a while now, and I’m finally listening. I want to validate if it’s something I really want.”
“How was it?”
“Good! I learned a lot about myself!”
But the truth of it all
is that I don’t know how to answer that question. What is the truth?
The truth is, I’ve been hearing a whisper inside,
A whisper in me that has been becoming a scream
“Be yourself, by yourself, and allow whatever comes
You’ll find yourself there,”
And then the whispers of doubt would always crowd in,
“You’re going to be bored,
You’re going to be lonely,
This is a waste of time.
You’re not thinking this through.
What do you mean, find yourself? You’re not going to find anything there.
What’s going to happen when you find nothing?
This is a mistake,” they said.
I packed my bags, drove up in a thunderstorm
Unsure of myself
A little frightened
When I arrived, it was a quiet room
I thrilled in the silence, the newness,
the balcony that overlooked the stars and the Hudson River.
I didn’t have a plan, really,
Only that I wanted to discover what I wanted to do,
Not anyone else.
I thought, maybe I’ll visit the town, and go hiking, or something.
And I went to sleep, hopeful,
wondering what I would find the next day.
On the first day,
I woke up
And I heard the voice that says,
“Look at you, sleeping in,
You’ve finally taken the opportunity to come out here,
And you’re choosing to miss out?
You’re going to come all the way out here and do nothing?
This is going to be a boring trip
Where you find nothing at all
You’re going to find out that everyone else is right
That you just aren’t doing enough with your life
That you’re just going somewhere to sleep, to do nothing, to be nothing productive
You’re useless, as usual
You must be depressed
Ugh, how did you end up here again?”
The voice speaks in whispers, in milliseconds that are difficult to grasp, but they are paralyzing,
I breathed into that voice.
Maybe that’s true, I thought,
But I’m here to find out for sure.
I’m here to choose to do what I want to do
And see what that feels like
And I slept an extra hour
And I woke up at 10am, feeling
guilty for waking up late
and joy for allowing it
I decided to visit town
Without an aim
“You’ve been to Hudson, before,” said the voice,
“Why didn’t you pick a better place, where you haven’t been before?
What a poor choice in location to find yourself
At least you should be seeing something new”
I am here,
and it is as good a place as any.
So I walked along Warren Street,
telling myself, when I could remember how,
That I had nowhere else to be,
Nothing else to do,
No one else to be.
This was the right place, at the right time
What was this moment teaching you?
I walked into a bakery
“Are you sure you want a baked good?”
“Now you have to buy something…”
“It’s going to be weird if you leave now after asking all these questions.”
“Might as well pick this place, what else are you going to find?”
“What if you get hungry later?”
“You never know what you want to eat, anyway… why don’t you just grab something and go?”
A minute, two,
I walked out
I sat down at a coffee shop.
I ordered something I didn’t actually want
I forgave myself
And for a moment, as I looked outside the window
I was stricken by the softness of existence
The silence of the moment
The greenery by the windowsill, the light blues of the paint
The knowledge that, somehow, I sat in a corner in the world,
In an unknown place with unknown people
And I felt, suddenly, touched
Tears sprang to my eyes
I wondered what the strangers would think
If I could explain, I would say,
I am crying and my soul is crying
We are meeting for the first time in this coffee shop
It is so noisy at other times”
I have met her before
But not quite so clearly
Not quite so intentionally as this
Not quite in the light of day, surrounded by others
I had never taken myself out like this
I felt like we were shy lovers
I felt like we were old friends
Convinced that distance had set us apart
And then the moment passed
So perhaps that is what they mean by finding yourself
But I am not sure I found myself in the moment
I expected revelation
Yet the revelation was not earth shattering
I realized, with equal parts joy and disappointment
I knew my soul
I knew myself
I have seen her before
I have been with her before
This is not a new place
You’ve been here before
And that’s okay
You can come back anytime
You just have to remember
I left early next morning, knowing I had found what I needed.