Into the Fire: The Sun Magazine Celebrates Personal Writing


Up at dawn for a sunrise soak, I greeted the day at the springs.  As the first crimson rays filtered over the ocean, I relaxed and let the volcanically heated water soothe my sore body.  I felt my cold lessen its grip, and anticipated a day of thought provoking sessions, revealing writing prompts, and inspiring and sometimes painful sharing by myself and other writers.

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My second time attending this retreat, I found it harder to connect this year.  Perhaps the long bike journey had predisposed me to reclusion, perhaps I was stepping back from my desire to entertain and impress strangers, or perhaps I was just worn out and exhausted.  I felt I was standing at the sidelines during sessions, and being fully antisocial during mealtimes.  So at dinner I pulled out my journal and wrote:

“Alone, surrounded by people, all talking, animated, for what purpose?  They know each other, are talking about the workshop, about Esalen, about the rain, their work, their families, their lives.  I am alone, pondering, sitting by myself.  Isreal Kamakawiwo‘ole is playing soothing music on the CD player, but I am not soothed.

“Why am I here? The retreat seems harder than last year, when I opened up more, reached out more. I have talked with a few people, mostly answering questions about my ride, taking in their adolation and praise.  But I am tired, weak with this cold.  I don‘t want to ride anymore.  I don‘t want to write either.  I just want to eat too much, and to go to bed and sleep for a month, or a year.

“I had a meeting with Sy Safransky this afternoon, but not before wandering around in the Esalen garden, crying to myself, to the ocean, to the rain, about everything.  I have such grief, and yet I tell no one.  Who wants to hear? Who really wants to hear!

“I don‘t want to feel this way, not now.  I want to feel happy, that I belong, that I have friends, that someone wants to listen, and I want to listen to them too.  But right now, I want to withdraw, to crawl under the sheets and cry myself to sleep.

“Neglect the broken heart for too long, and it makes itself known, emotion returning with a vengence.  Who wants to listen?  I do.  I do.  I want to hear.  So I write…“

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