Three Days of Retreats

I’ve got three days of library retreats in front of me. That might sound like it’ll be tons of fun to some of you. “Retreat” always used to bring to mind lots of fun images. Perhaps canoeing down a river, or maybe trekking across the fields somewhere picturesque. (In fact, the first retreat I ever had in Maine involved going orienteering, which was a whole lot of fun.)

I’m not going to say these retreats (one of which is two days, and one of which is one day) will be no fun at all. I’ve got friends who will be at both of them, and no doubt there will be laughter and food, but there’s also going to be meetings. Lots and lots of long meetings, full of sitting and talking. You see, these days, the meaning of the word “retreat” in my life has somehow changed to become synonymous with “day long meetings that involve free food.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan of free food. (Perhaps too big a fan of it, if we’re being honest.) But I’m also not a fan of long meetings. Your brain starts turning to jello about four hours into a long meeting, which as around the time you realize at a retreat that you’ve got another four hours to go, and that resolution you made to stop at one brownie was pretty much laughable. You’re going to need five or six to get through this day.

“But Bryce!” you say. “You’ll be away from the office! Won’t it be great to have a change of pace? Mix things up a bit?” Typically, I’d agree with you. When the retreats line up in a row like this, however, I begin to feel a little daunted. Am I up to that much retreating? At some point, if you retreat too much, isn’t that considered a bad thing? Isn’t retreating cowardly?

The courageous thing to do would be to take a stand against retreat, I say. To plant my flag firmly in the soil and declare, “No! We’re not doing another one of these things unless it involves a canoe or a compass!” To stand like Gandalf before the Balrog that is twenty-one hours of meeting and boldly tell those hours to go back to the shadow. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn.

But who am I kidding? Not only do I not have the flame of Anor tucked away in a pocket somewhere, I’m fresh out of flags to plant. And to be honest, there are actually important things these meetings need to get accomplished. Will there be padding? Sure. But we’ll also get some good stuff done. It’s the price we pay for progress.

So forgive me if I’m blog silent the next few days. I’ll be stuffing my face with brownies and doing my best to somehow get through so much retreating. Here’s hoping I don’t just retreat in one big circle and end up right where I started.

Wish me luck.



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