It’s nice every now and then to get away. A swing set. A skating rink. Some days anything will do. As I grow older I find myself carving out more of these moments to sneak away.
I had a close mentor tell me last semester: I try and get away so that when I come back I see reality – for what it is. He made me think about how reality is a funny thing. How even as I have been on a retreat this weekend in New Hampshire, I catch myself zoning out of all conversations only to lend my ear to all of them from above. To pay close attention to the words people say, that they choose. A form of expression we use often but consider little.
I should have known that a retreat to New Hampshire with a lot of politically minded folks would lend itself to conversations with few gaps and many spaces, topics that range from Medicare to the withdrawal from Afghanistan, the prettiest sunrises we’ve ever seen and the Rohingya’s problem in Myanmar. But somewhere in between, I’ve found myself taking a backseat to these conversations and really treasuring what people have to say here and how they choose to say it. Words simmer through the air without much restraint. And I find myself listening, really listening to so many different voices in so many different arenas, from so many different backgrounds. It is a treat, this thing we call conversation – I’ve remembered this weekend why for so long it has been what sustains me, what keeps me full.
In subtle ways, I’ve see in the course of this weekend how college has changed me. I used to always want to be the loudest person in the room. Now I just want to be at the edge of it. My ears pressed up against the window – I want to hear and see… everything. As I unpack with my mind problems that have always chased me, I see things now with richer dimension, with a view to the actors, to the implications, to the people that are on the other end of the line when something goes wrong. I feel within me a sense of soft confidence that wasn’t there before, a confidence that whispers in my ear that sometimes I need not fill empty spaces with unnecessary words. A confidence that has given me a sense of direction, the freedom to sit with problems in my head, to wrestle with them—and with people :) – and to step back every now and again and just, what was the word, observe.
Happy President’s Day sweet readers (and for those oceans away, I hope this marks a good start to your week!) Missing Ishani a lot these days – realizing that in between bursts of conversation its nice to have that one person in the room who you don’t have to say anything at all to. Cause she already gets it.