One of my friends believes in monastic practice when it comes to writing. He likes the routine and the silence, the discipline. I’ve never been very good with silence or stillness (stop laughing, Cougar). But on day three of my (temporary) bachelordom, I am beginning to understand him.

I spent all weekend entrenched in my father’s papers. I’ve been condensing the boxes, emptying binders into folders, flipping through page after page of calculations and handwriting that looks suspiciously like my own. I also printed out section 5 and edited it in the only room of my house with AC (that would be the bedroom).

I was not silent. Living alone makes me talk to the dog or myself or both. I scold my keys for going missing, I get mad (out loud) at my father (who has been dead for 15 years) for not labeling his binder, I give my dog guilt trips in a loving tone so he has no idea what I’m up to. Nor was I disciplined. I’ve been texting friends and checking facebook. But I put in my time and got shit done.

And it’s the silence of being alone that is allowing me to sink into the Fucker. I can spend hours trying to figure out what the hell I need to do to make section 5 work; my only distraction is my own mind. No one is talking to me about errands, something a friend said, a shocking news item. No one is singing me songs that are stuck in his head with alternate lyrics that often involve my last name.

There’s a silence in my practice (to use a monastic word) that I did not have before. I’m staying in. I’m editing, cutting, pasting, printing out, making outlines. I don’t get jolted out every 30 minutes. It’s like a slow swim across a lake. I’m coming up for air and then I’m going back in. There is a rhythm to it that works, a pace that will get me across the damn lake.

That is if I don’t starve to death between now and then.


2 responses to “Retreat

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