On Being Blind at the Silent Retreat

There’s a joke that goes, “I thought about going to a silent retreat but I talked myself out of it.”  That’s my reality, but I have male friends who have fought weekend traffic both ways to the Minnesota backwoods for the chance to camp in all kinds of weather with a hundred other men and pound on drums for forty-eight hours.  And the best part is that nobody says a word, except for the clandestine readings of Robert Bly poems behind the privy.  My friends report revelatory experiences from such weekends and, for me, any weekend in Minnesota without fishing sounds like heaven.

Surely these events generate so much testosterone that any man not affected does not have a pulse.  Primal  energy.  Jungle drums.  Men, men, men.  I applaud any man’s attempts to become less of a man – that is,  to compete less, communicate feelings other than envy, and pursue serenity as a contagious condition.

I’m still looking for my first silent retreat. Maybe I’m too picky or find fault too easily.  I like to think I’m a sensitive guy.  I only partly agree that sensitive  means easily annoyed

Now, in the sensitive-guy circles I bisect, word is out about a silent retreat without the mosquitoes.  It’s in a convention hotel in Schaumberg.  The Minnesota alumni who attended the last one  said it was OK, but lacked backwoods ambience. They found earth tone furnishings containing earnest folks meditating and making meaningful eye contact.  While I too find serenity in silence, I fear that, without the visuals, I’m short-changed.  Take away the audio track and I’m reduced to the senses better suited for my Seeing Eye dog, Randy.  Maybe I’ll send Randy to the Schaumberg silent retreat.  I’ve never heard him bark.  He follows gestures very well.  He has soulful eyes.  He’s a sensitive dog.   He’ll like it.  And when he comes home, perhaps his new-found serenity will rub off on me and I’ll file my next report from the Minnesota backwoods, banging the drum slowly.

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One Response to On Being Blind at the Silent Retreat

  1. Carl D says:

    Hi sorry I’m a month late. I’ve been mentally ill.
    But, back to the subject. My Dad was born and raised in the woods of Minnesota..
    He said that going to school thought you how to be able to walk out of Minnesota any time of the year. Imagine, kids walking to school and leaving early so they would not be late. My Dad got four years of free school. And he could read the Sun-times in the morning. No legal paper ever phased him. Take the papers home and read them; just like he did as a kid.
    How would he have treated a sound free weekend? I figure he would rather go fishing. He could ride a horse and milk a cow. Chop down trees, drive railroad spikes – he lived a long and fruitful life and he loved dogs. So, be kind to those boys raised in far away lands like Minnesota..

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