The kitchen had no stove, but that wasn’t going to stop us. “We can just make a big salad,” Philipp said. We all agreed and off we went to the only market in town. Besides the lettuce, tomatoes, and onion we bought white asparagus, zucchini, and olives – things I had never put on salads back home. But I wasn’t home. I was in Spain, walking the Camino to Santiago and preparing dinner with people I’d met less than two weeks earlier — some of whom I’d spoken with for hours, others with whom I had not shared more than a smile.
It started in 2008 when four of us met in a writing class at the John C. Campbell Folk School. An on-line critique group was formed. Two years later we reunited at JCCFS, added another person to our ranks, and then decided to hold our own writing retreats. They were yearly at first. Now they’re every six months. The first time it was just for a week. Now, the retired folk of the group stay for two weeks.
“Is that really a vacation?” a co-worker asked before I left.
“For me it is,” I said. I know it’s not everyone’s dream. But for the five of us, a chance to be free of the distractions of our lives, to write without interruption, to spend hours talking about all the books we’ve read since last we saw each other, to gather at 4 every day for wine and conversation — it is a perfect vacation.
Lois brings a printer and we hold at least one critique session, gathered around the kitchen table, pens poised over each other’s work, wine glasses filled.
Food is plentiful – we all bring food to share, each of us cooking a night or two. (Lucky for us, Lois’ idea of cooking includes having someone else do it — and the dishes — for you, so one night we actually get in a car and leave the premises). Sometimes we escape from behind our notebooks and computers and head out for a walk. Or an artist date.
That’s where I took off to this morning — to find some art to feed my soul. As usual, that meant conversation with artists (today, a sweet-grass basket weaver) and the business owners who show their work (today, the owner of a pottery gallery). As I wandered around, I came upon these frogs — doing everything I enjoy most about these writing retreats (besides the actual writing).
The other day, as I helped a client organize her office, we got to talking about the difference between scarcity thinking and abundance thinking.
“Scarcity thinkers believe things are in short supply. They hold on to what they have and acquire more when they have a chance — whether they need it or not.” I picked up yet another bag filled with office supplies and added them to her growing stockpile.
“Abundance thinkers, however, believe theirs is a world of plenty — whatever they need will come to them when they need it. Or, in this day and age, can be bought 24/7 online and delivered to their door. These are the folks who only buy what they need when they need it.”
Imagine a life without hearing the words, “Is that for here or to go?” No coffee to go. No drive-thrus. No take-out containers.
Imagine walking into a coffee shop where no one is staring at a piece of technology. Instead everyone is either engaged in conversation or silently taking in the scene around them.
“I feel like my week is off somehow if I don’t come,” I said to Chris as we left the coffee shop. I used to have that feeling about church. Now, I have that feeling about a Tuesday morning gathering — a gathering of returned Camino pilgrims.
I went on the Camino in part to find out if I was on the right path in my spiritual life. It was there that I realized it wasn’t a religion I was seeking per se — I was looking for a community.