When was the last time that you truly disconnected from all of the distractions around you? Do you remember what real silence sounds like? Can you recall a time when you didn’t respond to a single text message, email or social media notification as they poured into your consciousness, eroding your mental clarity?
In our current culture, our attention is continually being splintered into fractions. It is now the norm to be hunched over our screens, while perfunctorily conversing with our spouse, superficially attending to our kids and generally flowing through our day without being fully aware of the present at any given time.
At work, at home and in my personal life, there are very few moments of pure peace. Aside from my mornings at the gym, I am inundated with constant demands for my attention from the moment I open my eyes, to my last deep breath as I slide into slumber.
I strongly suspect that I am not alone.
In the ER, a nurse stands close by, waiting to request an order for pain meds, while I hastily jot down my assessment of a patient that I just finished seeing. The clerk catches my eye silently motioning me to the phone: “The radiologist wants to speak to you.” From my scrub top pocket, my phone piercingly announces an incoming text message from a colleague about a patient I had just admitted.
At home, the moment I gingerly step into the front entrance, Henry and Alice’s demands stream into my ears in a deluge while Ada pants and charges her way through the fray. Through the commotion, I push to decipher Blake’s commentary on current events of the world and his work woes. “Are you even listening?” he wonders. My to-do list scrolls through my mind and I mull over what I could possibly get onto the dinnertable in less than 30 minutes.
Some days it is all too much.
Three summers ago, however, three of my best friends and I headed out into the bush on an inaugural backcountry paddling adventure, propelled by my desperation to get away from it all: sleepless nights with a one and two year-old, a full-time workload and the constant struggle of finding myself in the chaos of doctoring and mommying. Little did I know how paramount those four days each summer would mean for my mental survival.
For three summers now, we have committed this time for ourselves and for each other, defending it against the creep of work demands (“Could you just please fill this uncovered ER shift Friday night?” asks the scheduler) and other commitments threatening to erode our once-a-year pilgrimage to the bush for a slice of silence.
This year was no exception. For four blissful days, I existed in a selfish bubble. No cell phones. No kids. No partner. Just delicious meals, hours of losing myself in the pages of a novel, moments of meditation beneath the windswept white pines, conversations that brought us to tears, conversations that split our sides with laughter, and conversations that slid us into mellow quietness.
I am beyond blessed to have friends who are willing to venture into the wilderness with me and for a husband who is willing to keep the fort.
All joking aside, I cannot thank these two women enough for tolerating my bossiness, my idiosyncrasies and anxieties. Thank you for keeping our Women In Wilderness adventures alive! I appreciate your friendship more than you’ll ever know.