I was getting ready to go on a month long silent meditation retreat when the editor of this magazine asked me to write an article about the holidays. This was late October which meant I’d be returning home in late November. Just in time to visit my family for Thanksgiving. Now, if you’re a writer, which I pretend to be from time to time, you know that this is what writers kill for. Conflict. The lifeblood of great stories and compelling characters. I’d be coming off a month of peace, equanimity, and mindfulness only to run headlong into a buzzsaw of family dysfunction. A virtual goldmine, right? Even though the deadline was tight, I agreed to do the article, knowing the story would practically write itself.
If you ever decide to attend a month-long silent meditation retreat, talk to me first. It’s by far the least fun you’ll ever have. Imagine four weeks of no stimulation whatsoever. No TV, cellphones, or computers. No books, magazines, or newspapers. No reading, no writing, and most distressingly, no talking. There’s absolutely nothing to distract you but the thoughts in your head. That’s a lot to ask, even for the person who absolutely loves himself, which I do not. I’d been laid off about a month before. And a month before that I’d gotten a divorce, meaning the thoughts attached to both those events would be my constant companions for four weeks straight. Again, not a good time. But as much as I’d like to be self-deprecating and tell you I was a basket case who fought every minute of it, I didn’t and I wasn’t.
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