A Retreat in Tranquility

There has been moments in life when things are just crazy. It’s those moments of chaos that often hide a lot of potential gems. Finding the gems, however, is not easy.

Recalling a dark period of my life, I found that a few habits have developed and and helped me plenty. The habit of retreating into a tranquil quiet place has been of enormous value to me.

While the story itself below is fictional and based of my personal experience, the principle is quite valid. Enjoy the read.

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Riding into the sunset

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A Retreat in Tranquility

Max was at the end of his wits. He had been hit by many stressful circumstances. He couldn’t focus on his final exam. Without passing that exam, his track record would be ruin and his feeling of being a fake, an impostor, would finally get the better of him.

What circumstances? Well, for starters, Max had lost his loan package for school. Plus, his part time job had finished and there was no other money coming in. To make matters worse, his parents had just finished paying for his sister’s schooling and had nothing more to offer him.

There as a knot in his tummy about his career choice too. Max felt that he had to change career paths. That feeling had been bugging him for the longest this past semester. It was not making sense, it was just there day in and day out.

To compound matters, Max found himself struggling with feelings of depression. Powering through was not really working. All the late nights of working on term papers and managing mid-terms had caught up to him.

In a manner of speaking, he was bone dry and out of energy. His peer adviser was even telling him of taking a semester off to recoup and reset the mind.

Max knew this was not possible. Coming from a family of immigrants who cherished and valued school success above everything else, to take time off would be equivalent of asking to be disowned by the family. There were sins and then there were cardinal sins. Taking time off from school so close to graduation with a prestigious degree was the most egregious of sins to commit.

While aimlessly walking about the campus, a weird idea struck Max. Having no other reason to ignore the idea, Max decide to go with it. Having had tried everything else that could be done, what could possibly go wrong?

The Retreat

For some reason, Max was recalling a memo he had read in class. The memo was about the benefits of taking a break in solitude to reset and refresh the mind. At time, Max had scoffed at the idea. It made no sense. If one had a goal to reach, one had to press hard until reaching the goal. Any breaks was just wasting time.

Sure, in the physical world of sports, one had to take breaks. The body can only burn but so much calories before the build up of lactic acid got to be too much. But the mind, that was different. It created thoughts. As long as it was properly fueled, Max rationalized, it could power through and think.

Well, given how listless he was, the notion of leaving all his stress behind for a day was just too tempting. Getting in his car, Max headed out to the beach to sit quietly and enjoy the waves. Maybe that would brighten his mood.

As he retreated and left, a weight that he didn’t realize he was carrying started to lift off his chest. As the miles racked up, his mind started to slow down and relax. His shoulders eased off being so tight.

Absentmindedly, Max found himself pulling off the side of the highway into one of those scenic stops. It was a spot he had never checked out before. It was an overhang into a steep drop-off styled valley.

The leaves were falling and giving way to bare trees. The city looked impressive. The reflection off the buildings of the setting sun looked like a choreographed dance of lights. The hushed rustle of branches swaying in the wind caressed his ears and whispered something vaguely familiar.

Max started to feel a bit of tranquility wash over his soul. He was starting to feel human again. The stress had a new context now. The framework of nature made him realize how fleeting and pointless a lot of his stress was. Nothing he fretted about was a terminal as he thought it to be.

Even if he dropped out of school, the end was not the end. He could always come back. Taking time off was not a colossal failure either. Time would still march on at the same tempo as it always done. A new day would always follow a night. Each season would pass and each new one would bring it’s own opportunities.

In that moment, Max understood the need to be kind to himself. He was running himself into the ground. His lack of care for himself was creating the fog that limited his vision. He was seeing through the narrow lens of panic. Now, in the wild, he was seeing the bigger picture and it made sense.

He needed to breathe and relax a bit more. Max vowed to not take his sleep and health for granted. There was no point in working through many nights. It was better to be smarter about how he used his day hours to get better results from his day. That way, his body and mind could reset and refresh.

As for the loans and payment of school, Max chuckled. He had the option at his school of paying off a semester incrementally. He could always use the cash from his side hustle to pay his way over time.

With that clarity from a retreat to tranquility, Max was able to retreat into a tranquil state of mind. In that very new state, options started to come into focus. It would not be long before Max managed to work his way towards graduation. As for the feeling of a career change, they were gone. He was on the right track. It was just a matter of seeing the light more clearly.

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Sweet memories of sweet times

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2 thoughts on “A Retreat in Tranquility

  1. Very well written. It confirms that yes, sometimes you do need to stop and smell the roses, not because of the scent but because of the calm it brings.

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