I recently spent four days on the San Juan River. I put my iPhone and all connections to the virtual world aside on June 6, and I did not miss them.
My mind, body, and spirit breathed a deep sigh of relief for four days.
We left Prescott in a van packed with people connected to Prescott College. I was tired and cranky. I was worried about whether I would survive four days with a group of people.
I am an introvert. I know what you are thinking, “but you are so bubbly and gregarious. You seem to do just fine in a crowd of people.”
It’s true. I can do all right in a group. I put on a kind of performance, showing a certain side of myself. If the crowd is full of wonderful characters, as this van turned out to be, I become an energy chameleon. The spirits of the people around me buoy my spirits.
But I thrive on quiet. I write when it’s quiet. I can breathe when it’s quiet.
When I went to live in Africa, I was warned that I would not have time alone for the next six months. Americans love their solitude and space, but I would be sharing a room with four host sisters. I was also moving to the only house in the neighborhood with a television.
All of this meant that I would always have company.
What surprised me was that I was not unhappy. It was when I returned home to an empty, silent room that I discovered how lonely I truly was.
On the San Juan River, I found that I enjoyed being in the company of a quirky group of faculty, partners, and students from Prescott College.
The quiet of the car ride home after arriving in Prescott was strange after being in the company of people for several days. And I found that I had little desire to plug back in to life in the “real” world.
As soon as I turned my phone back on during the drive home on June 9th and checked my email, I could feel the anxiety insidiously surging back in. There was no river in sight, but there were several other people’s expectations to contend with.