Saturday, September 1, 2012

Pete Retreat 3: The Staycation

The last two Pete Retreats were a week alone in a cabin in the Michigan woods. There was no phone or cell service, no internet, no cable (I unplugged the tiny TV and shoved it in the closet anyway), and since it was fall there was no one around. It was a great experience because I had no work commitments, no chance to hang with friends, and no way to entertain myself. There was literally nothing to do...and a whole week of it stretching out in front of me. I ended up slowing my pace way, way down and filling the time with hiking in the woods, making art, writing, reading, and self-reflection.

In September, Jim is going to a conference for about a week.  I usually go with him and bum around whatever city we're in. (In past years, we went to Vegas and Montreal). However, this year, the conference is in San Antonio and...well...sorry San Antonio but I'm just not interested in hanging out alone with you. So I considered going on a Pete Retreat.

However, the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea of having the house all to myself.  I'd also be able to schedule a long evening or two with some close friends, as opposed to completely sequestering myself. So I decided to take the week off from work and have a Pete Retreat Staycation!

Once the idea had occurred to me, I was in love with it because it fits with something I've come across in my Zen studies. It's encapsulated by the koan Tozan's Sixty Blows from the Mumonkan. This koan is about how we don't need to travel to find rightmindedness; it's inside us all the time. There's no need to journey or go to holy places or seek gurus. We simply need to stop running away from it. The staycation will help me put this concept into action.

So I'm making a list of things I'd like to do during my staycation. I have to be prepared because I will have lots of electronic temptations around me. If I'm not carefeul, the week could easily become a vegfest of truly sloth-like proportions.

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