I'm down to the last stages of my PhD journey and as I reflect back, I think of the times I needed solitude.
The times when I needed to be in my own space and interact with a select group of people. Everyone and everything else was optional. Solitude is the time I spend disconnected from outside inputs. There are inputs everywhere: billboards, music, podcasts, books, newspapers, people, art, text messages, etc.
I've spent a lot of time the last couple of months carving out space for me to sit alone. Sometimes I'm lost in my thoughts while on a silent car ride, or in my room sitting on my bed listening to birds chirp or I'm spending time writing out my thoughts. This time alone has encouraged me to reflect on where I go to retreat. What spaces are welcoming to my needs?
Usually, I'm in my office by 8am and working until 5pm. This semester, I did not want to be in my office because there are no windows and it's cold. I wanted to be in an environment that best supported the level of concentration I needed. I spent the last 3 months at home or at the library working on my dissertation and working on me.
I previously thought it was an isolating activity. However, when I read Dr. Montgomery's post about retreating to advance, I realized that I was not isolating myself, but actually retreating to advance myself. For me to advance, I need space to think, grow, and observe. It's hard for me to do that in certain spaces.
I've in the past detailed the importance of libraries staying open and the resource availability at libraries. It's not surprising that the place I turn to for retreat is the library. Besides work and home, the library or bookstore might be the place I spend most of my time.
April marks the celebration of school libraries and libraries in general. The theme for this year is that libraries make communities stronger. I cannot stress the importance of having access to a space that exists to provide resources at little or no cost to the local community. This alone could be the reason why libraries make communities stronger.
I would encourage you all to think about places that you go to retreat. Think about your local library and how it supports you and your community. Think about who encouraged you to read. Think about how you can advocate and promote libraries.
These are all things that are important to think about because the number of places where you can go to retreat is shrinking and it is important to ensure our spaces survive.
Where do you go to retreat? Are you like me and obsessed with libraries and bookstores?
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