On Wednesday of this coming week, I’ll be leaving for a meditation retreat lasting ten days (hint: no post next Sunday). The retreat is essentially silent with no access to phones, computers, books, notebooks, or any other form of stimulation. Save for the staff at the facility during designated times, I also won’t be allowed to speak to or look at anyone. In short: this will be intense. To answer the obvious question: no, I’m not joining a cult.
A few months back, someone brought up an idea of Friedrich Nietzsche’s to me about knowing vs. believing. The basic premise was that some people want to know and some people want to believe. Encapsulated in a quote: “Sometimes people don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed.” Up until recently, I was firmly planted in the cozy-with-my-illusions group. As life has taken some interesting—albeit not terrible—turns over the last six months, I’ve developed a deep interest in knowing. More specifically, I’ve been focused on getting to better know myself.
For example, something I’ve fully accepted in the past few weeks: I’m terrible in groups. I can exist in group situations just fine, but I rarely contribute anything to them. Instead, I prefer one-on-one conversations and at most, two-to-three person groups. Anything beyond that and I’ve found the conversation drifts to a level that my mind could care less about. This isn’t deliberate (I’m not being mean), it’s just how my brain works. If you’ve ever spent time with me in a big group, you’ll know that I’m a dolt. Get me by yourself or with a small group of friends, though? I’m like Regis Philbin circa 93’.
Realizing and accepting this has made all the difference. I’ve stopped doing things that go against my own nature. When I do find myself in these situations, I just chill out and do my thing. Granted, I’m sure from afar I look I’m contemplating a jump, but what are you going to do? This is why knowing yourself is great. Even though the external perception may be grim, I know that everything is just fine. Accepting your personality for what it is can be quite the treat.
The goal for the next two weeks is to further this self-knowledge. What other weird quirks have I comfortably ignored over the years? What bullshit behaviors have I justified that I need to correct? What am I like when I’m not stimulated by anything for 10 days? Will I lose my mind or find it on the side of the road looking for a ride home? Whatever happens, I’m excited. Worst case scenario I spend two weeks on a farm getting some peace and quiet, earning my “everything’s great, maaaaaan” merit badge. If I come back and announce plans to start an all natural, hemp-based mattress company…show concern.