It’ll come as no surprise to anyone that I’m someone who enjoys alone-time. On that Myers-Briggs thing? The ‘I’ gets pegged and glows orange. Others may argue, and possibly rightfully so, that I’m one of the most extroverted introverts around, but when it comes to “What do I want really?” – frequently it’s “I want to be alone.”
This week, in a fit of randomized events, things came together that allowed me to head up to my favorite refuge for a few days of quiet alone-time. The practicals of this cosmic convergence aren’t all that interesting – a long holiday weekend approaching, Zach having an overnight sleepover at his camp, an infininately understanding partner who recognizes and supports my antosocialness, and the ever present job that doesn’t require me to be anyplace in -particular-, as long as I’m productive.
So, off I went. Thursday saw me speeding north toward our refuge in the hills. The house has been in Cat’s family for about 50 years now, progressing from a small shack up to what some would call a compound. Regardless of the configuration, it had the things I find most soothing, most conducive to my away-ness. It was quiet. I was the only one there. It had a coffeemaker and a broadband wireless internet connection. It was my Utopia.
So the last 2 days have had me sitting quietly with my laptop, a tasty cup of coffee at hand, the local radio station playing classic rock on the kitchen stereo, and me being… productive.
The last bit came as a hoped for, but not necessarily expected, result. While I certainly like ‘getting away’ and being on my own, if I don’t actually produce anything, the afterglow fades quickly into the overwhelming list of things that STILL need to be done. And just being on my own with no distractions is no definitive recipe for productivity. I can easily manufacturer a thousand distractions on my own.
Not so this time. The combination of the space, the wide-open schedule, the laptop, and the amazingly cool, clear weather have all combined to let me get into my ‘groove’ – the term I use to mean “the brain is working, problems are being solved, the complexities of what the work at hand are meshing well, and I’m not getting distracted”. A fellow with an unpronounceable last name termed this mode “Flow”, and wrote a book about it.
But there’s more to it than that. Flow or groove or whatever you want to call it is great, but it needs a larger environment in which to thrive and return. In my office at home, I can groove along for a few hours, then need to go… somewhere. A walk, a bike ride, something, and hope that lets me slip back into Groove when I return, which doesn’t always work well. Here, however, I can step outside, and I’m on the shore of a mile long lake, with wind, trees, and the ever-present slap of water on the docks to remind me that the world is still fine, take a rest, you can go back when you’re ready.
Snapshots and images…
- A storm moving along Thursday night. The clouds were perhaps 200′ up, but no rain. The lake angrily tossing up waves under the steady gusting wind. The clouds churning over my head as the entire front slid by. The clouds had the look of a steady ocean wave, constantly collapsing on itself, leaving tendrils and whirls behind.
- The quiet of Friday morning, the lake smooth as glass, dotted here and there with early morning fishermen. The sound of someone’s voice, realizing that it was one of the fellows in the boat, almost half a mile away, quietly talking to his fellow angler.
- Hastily closing the windows as another storm came in last night, then standing on the dock as the gusts washed over me.
- Waking in the morning to just the sound of wind, water, and trees rustling, making morning coffee, and sitting on the chairs out on the waterfront, watching as the boats on the lake slowly change from morning fishermen into jetboats and skiers, like a shift change at some loosely structured business. Later there will be sailboats and kids on innertubes, and as it gets dark tonight, with the inevitable quieting of the breezes, the deck boats will put in their appearance.
It has been a great few days, but I’m also looking forward to the arrival of the rest of the family, they should be here soon. Another 4 days here, socializing, playing, and with a little luck, sailing.
I feel a bit like Lazslo in Real Genius. I haven’t actually spoken to anyone in 2 days, I wonder if I’ll remember how.