You may be wondering where I've been for the last week or so. Well, in part, I've been high. No, I'm not talking about being high on life, though I've had plenty of that as well. No, I've been the other kind of high. The kind that's not so much fun because of the loss of cognition and the reason I'm taking the drugs. Last week was a bad week in terms of pain and I was taking either muscle relaxants or pain killers every day. The lack of cognition caused by either one of these, much less than both together makes it quite difficult to write anything, even a grocery list, coherently.
So this last weekend, I attended a four day-long retreat at a state park, which was similar in both spirit and togetherness as my beloved conference which I've previously mentioned attending.
And true to form, over the weekend of the retreat, I attended only one session, choosing the one which held the most sway over my mental desires.
Rather than discuss what I attended and why, let's discuss why, when I pay to go to a conference or retreat which has plenty of sessions to choose from and interesting topics to be heard, I only attend one session, EVER.
This retreat was no different than my beloved conference. For me, attending retreats and conferences is not about attending sessions on various topics. As interesting as I find them, and as much as I may say in advance that I might like to attend them, once I'm on location, I have a desire only to revel in the energy of the other attendees. I learn about sessions from the attendees or the speakers themselves. I wander and smile at passing faces, stopping to hug whenever I'm so moved.
Mostly though, because I'm me, I suppose, I end up hanging out with kids. Mine, other people's, kids I've known for years and kids I've only just met. Kids seek me out to hug me and to talk to me.
As I said in Collecting Children, children just gravitate to me. There is no conscious effort on my part to make this happen. In reflection, I think part of this is how balanced my regarding of them is. I treat them as equals, as persons in their own right, with their own thoughts and opinions. Moreso, I believe they gravitate toward me because I challenge them. I fully acknowledge that a child is a product of their upbringing and I challenge them--just as I would any adult--to examine that belief system and find if it holds value for them as an individual. I listen, listen as if whatever they have to say is just as valuable as what any adult has to say.
When they proudly tell me, "I made a leaf person at the crafts table!" I say, "Awesome, why?" "Why, what?" "Why did you make a leaf person, was it the purpose of the craft or did you choose it? Why did you choose it, what is the significance?" And I find this is what makes me different from most other adults and why children gravitate to me. I force them to think about themselves and their choices and I listen to what they have to say.
In turn, I gain their perspective, their insights into the world and adult interactions. Their questions on why adults don't just "do what they want," the way a child does. Questions like these cause me to question myself, my belief system and to find if it continues to hold value for me. Unlike most adults, I find the key to happiness is being constantly willing to review myself and remake myself as necessary. To find that this or that didn't work and to try something new. As we all know, the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again expecting different results. If I want different results for myself and my life, the key is change.
Change is why I attend conferences and retreats.