October 23, 2009:
With the apartment now in the hands of the property management agency, I have mucho free time. I've been filling, no, packing that time with visitors. This week I've had a few days with up to six guests and a couple of hour-plus phone calls. The connections with people are so rewarding, so full of content. Previously in my life, visits had a certain amount of verbal plastic peanuts. No longer. It's as if we get to significance very quickly and stay there through the duration.
However, as my calendar started to fill into the future, I felt a gathering dissatisfaction. I gave time to everyone as quickly as requested, but I did not give time to me. How long could I continue to see so many people with such enthusiasm? And why was I avoiding making time for myself? It became clear that one of my joys--visiting with others--might turn sour if I didn't add some balance to my life. I realized that I was yearning for alone time.
In talking with Steven Grafenstein this morning, he told me of civilizations where initiates to a new life stage--adulthood, marriage, death--would often go into the temple where they worshiped and create a sacred space. They would be alone, and they would invoke their god or goddess to reveal the intention of their next stage. What could they expect? In our culture, people go into the wilderness on a vision quest for this sort of information. Steven suggested that I was setting aside my time to create sacred space in my room at Maitri. In this sacred space there would be no time. There are no projects to do. There is just receptivity.
I've taken my November calendar and for every day, I've set aside two continuous hours when I can be in my room, unavailable to the outside. I will not be using the PC. I will not be reading. I may listen to music. I may be doing yoga stretches for some of the time. But the focus will be quiet time when I listen. Although it's true that I get a great deal of information from good conversation, the most important truth comes from within me when I am quiet. It's that still, small voice that is mentioned and honored across the centuries.
At the end of my life I expect to withdraw into myself and loose many of my communication functions: no seeing, no talk, no acute tactile awareness. Some say that smell is the last sense to ebb away. At that time, I will not return from my retreat. But prior to my final days, I hope to go within during my two hour daily sessions and then emerge intact and communicative. That's one of my most fervent hopes about moving into Maitri, that it would give me a safe space to retreat and return in a rhythm. As a way of easing into this place of contemplation, I'm going to set aside an hour in the next week to practice this in quietude. As always, I'll keep you posted about what happens. In many ways, this is the most exciting step I've taken since moving in here.