tree in morning sun, Squam Lake, New Hampshire
"One of the underlying reasons for traveling to sublime landscapes... is to pay witness to a world far beyond our narrow concerns, to enter a cultural world that does not trigger our habitual responses, and at best, to find ourselves then borne along by some other invisible current; an invisible current, that until then we were too habituated to or preoccupied to find."
~ David Whyte, The Three Marriages
This month I travelled to the woods of New Hampshire for a creative retreat. No doubt Squam Art Workshops fits the bill (and more!) when it comes to Mr. Whyte's sublime landscapes with an invisible current, but really any retreat that gets you out of your habitual environment has the same potential - big or small.
Gathering with like-minded people in a physical space dedicated to creative endeavours is good for you. Here's why:
~ It allows a temporary respite from the little things that sometimes weigh big. You know, the laundry piles, the dustbunnies, the unopened bills on the table... Sure it'll be there when you get back, but for now? You can leave that sh-- at home. Free your psyche for bigger things.
~ It shakes you out of visual complacency. Being in a new physical environment can stimulate new creative patterns. New smells, views, sounds, palettes, textures... who knows where they all could lead?
~ It gives you the confidence to sink even deeper into your creative identity. Being with a bunch of creative kindreds can do wonders to reinforce what you already know: that you are a painter/dancer/writer/[insert your creative title here]. For the duration of your retreat, you are free to live it. Unabashedly.
~ It entices forces you out of your creative - and sometimes social - comfort zone. You work through a new painting process, write poetry instead of business memos, take photos of people instead of stills. You share lodging and meals with people you've never met before, hop on a plane when you're afraid to fly, or leave the kids alone with their father for the first. time. ever. Grow little one, grow.
~ It facilitates new connections and creative community. Gathering with other creative folks expands your creative network, offering support that may not always be readily available on the home front. It may bring about friendships that last a lifetime, or deep connections that exist only for that momentary purpose they were meant to fulfill. Both are wonderful.
~ If you're lucky, it gives you a safe place to be yourself, understood, and accepted for who you are.
~ If you're even luckier, it infuses you with an intangible creative spirit and energy that will carry you through to the next retreat, that invisible current referred to by Mr. Whyte, above.
Creative retreats are good for you.
Whether it's to a local studio, an oceanfront cottage across the country, or an empty boardroom at the office, where could you travel for yours?