Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Rocking Chair

As old and squeaky as they are, these rocking chairs provide the best workspace.  Lined up like movie seats in a natural theater, the worn wood of the seat had adapted itself for comfortable sitting after years of practice.  And the equally worn bench in front of it morphed into an impromptu desk, allowing me to organize myself, my thoughts – a requirement for productive work.

I became so engrossed with the reading and the writing of the day that I would periodically forget my surroundings.  But when I paused, looking up to turn an idea over and around in my mind, the view was still there, better than any wall hangings one could select for an office.  The mountains were still green in the distance due to the unusual heat of this year’s fall, and they seemed alive and warm, breathing.  The path below the wooden rail led to memories of campfires, roasted marshmallows, banjo sing-alongs, and slightly buzzed conversations with new friends and old souls.

Wild Acres Retreat – our annual work meeting with other writing program administrators in the Carolinas – has become a pilgrimage of sorts.  While it is work, the setting provides a cleansing of my soul.  Like stumbling across a random chalk mural etched on the sidewalk of our local park with swirling, red letters reading START OVER, sometimes all you need is a reminder, an allowance.  And Wild Acres has yet to fail to provide that.

I didn’t notice until later that Stephanie, office mate for the day and roommate for the trip, picked up my phone to snap a picture of me – rocking, working, breathing, cleansing, and renewing. 

Each night, after the day of work and perhaps a couple of games of ping pong, the line of rocking chairs and their bench mate forgot their previous working purpose and become our space for having a cocktail, sharing tattoos and their stories, talking about our families and friends, and considering the possibilities and collaborations the future could hold.

It is these memories, tied to the rocking chair in my mind, that allow me during a long workday in my four-wall office, to take a deep breath and, at least for a moment, start over.

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