Albert Camus wrote, “In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion.” While I wholeheartedly agree with Camus, I am finding it harder and harder to turn away from the world. The world is demanding! My life is overflowing with obligations. Slips of paper with reminders scribbled on them and to-do lists are literally busting out of every book, calendar, and bag I own. Yes, I desperately want to turn away from all of it, but sometimes I wonder: What will happen if I do?
When I returned from my first ever art retreat experience, the fact that everything I feared leaving behind was right there waiting for me when I returned came as a big surprise to me. After just one day back at home, I wondered if it was true that I even left? Was it a dream? Nothing really changed while I was away. When I returned, my children still needed me. My husband still wanted me. My dog still barked at me. There were still groceries to buy and meals to make. There were still appointments to make and playdates to keep. All the pieces of my life were still intact.
Nothing around me changed, but I was different. I changed. I changed a lot. I left for the retreat feeling overwhelmed, tired, and fearful that I had made a big mistake in investing this time and money in a retreat, of all things. It seemed impractical, indulgent even. I felt unworthy. Simultaneously, I was exploring new territory in my life at that time. I was healing old wounds and growing into a new way of living my life. I suspected there was a whole other way of moving through my days, but I couldn’t seem to access it. A retreat seemed like a great way to, at the very least, try something new.
When I returned from that retreat, I was lighter. I had the air of a child who just came in for the night after a day of playing outside — soaking in sunshine and inhaling fresh air. I was still tired when I returned, but it was a different kind of tired than I was used to. I felt it in my body, my mind, and my spirit. Just as a growing child needs sleep to integrate what transpires during the day, I needed sleep to integrate what I was learning.
Attending that first retreat was so powerful for me that I decided to create something like it for others. I had envisioned creating something similar at other points in my life, but it never seemed like the right time to pursue bringing those visions to life. Upon my return, I set to work imagining what I would offer, who would be involved, and where it would take place. Slowly, all the details fell into place and it was only up to me to make it happen.
One of the challenges I find in being creative is that it’s not always easy to know which path to take. There are always so many options! Turning away from the world not only allows us to understand the world better, it also allows us to understand ourselves better. In the time spent at that first retreat, I remembered the dreams I had previously. Away from my everyday life, I could see that what once seemed impossible was quite possible. Rather than causing my life to fall apart, attending that retreat helped my pull my life together in a new, more meaningful way by creating space for me to experience something new, different, and wildly inspiring.
As I begin making plans for this year’s retreat, I am feeling that same, familiar pull back to my lists, my calendar, and my obligations. I again wonder what will planning this retreat mean for me? How can I make it meaningful for others? What will happen if we all get up and leave our everyday lives for a few days to retreat into art, nature, writing, and each other? Now I can anticipate the answers to these questions. I know that to better understand myself and the world around me, I must turn away from it all. I know the same is true for others. I also know that we will all return to our homes changed —refreshed, renewed, and wildly inspired.
To learn more about The Heart Connected Retreat, visit here.
About the Author: Anna Oginsky
Anna Oginsky is the founder of Heart Connected, LLC, a small Michigan-based workshop and retreat business that creates opportunities for guests to tune in to their hearts and connect with the truth, wisdom, and power held there. Her work is inspired by connections made between spirituality, creativity, and community. Anna’s first book, My New Friend, Grief, came as a result of years of learning to tune in to her own heart after the sudden loss of her father. In addition to writing, Anna uses healing tools like yoga, meditation, and making art in her offerings and in her own personal practice. She lives in Brighton, Michigan with her husband, their three children, and Johnny, the big yellow dog. Connect with her on her website; Twitter; Facebook; or Instagram.