They say that ever more people are turning to retreats of one sort of another to escape the day-to-day grind. Whereas, in the past, we may have packed the suncream and shorts and flown off for a couple of weeks in the sun, we are apparently just as likely today to forsake the beaches and crowds and find ourselves a spot for ascetic withdrawal from the everyday pressures of the world – all of course with a distinctly modern slant.
Gone are the days when to go into a retreat meant dressing down in your best drab sackcloth, retiring to a monastery and subsisting on a diet of porridge and prayer for a week or two. Modern retreats offer all sorts of luxuries, from Swedish facial massages to hot stones and being dolloped all over in mud or, if that’s not your style, how about a writers’ retreat, yoga retreat, eco-retreat, or spiritual? In their own way, they’re all holidays, of course, but the ‘retreat’ element says something more. What these experiences offer is more than just a holiday – they offer the opportunity to be severed from our everyday lives; a chance to do something very different to our usual routine, and most importantly, they give us the luxury and indulgence of taking the ‘time out’ to partake of these things.
What sort of a world have we come to where life has become such a drag that we need to tear ourselves away from it and be given permission to relax, do nothing or indulge in a pleasure that we would normally shun?
i’m not sure whether you’d consider sl to be a ‘retreat’ – certainly, many use sl to escape the real world, even to retreat from reality but i don’t really know whether it falls into the same category as a true get-away-from-it-all-and do-something-completely-different rl retreat – maybe it does; it’s a matter of opinion, i suppose.
One of the problems with sl is that it’s a very public space – although ostensibly full of empty spaces, they tend not to stay empty when you want them to. Seren’s First Law of SL states:
Within moments of finding a quiet space to relax, get changed or try out foolish gestures, that same space will attract several hundred intrusive visitors – mostly noobs – who will completely freak you out.
Most of us, at some time or other feel the need to have our own space in sl, whether for the practicalities of privacy or – just like in the real world – to retreat from everything that is going on around us, to a place that is quiet and private: a sanctuary.
It’s been a while since i’ve had a place that i can call a true sanctuary in sl. Over time, i’ve had rented rooms, a Linden house, my own builds and now my own parcel but it’s been a few months since i’ve had a private bolthole that i can retire to away from the world. i’ve a sky platform which i use for numerous different things – as a sandbox, changing room, building site, but it’s nothing fancy, just a utilitarian prim in the sky – it does the job and i didn’t need anywhere else, or so i thought.
Recently a friend invited me to their own pad. This is a person who is always pretty busy with their own sl businesses and they have plenty of choice when it comes to having somewhere to call ‘home’. What they’ve chosen is small, discrete and incredibly peaceful – it’s also their private space, not public or open to plain view – you feel relaxed and completely away from the hustle and bustle of sl as soon as you arrive there. It’s a haven, a sanctuary – a true retreat – and i realised that this was something missing from my own SLife. You see, as many wonderful friends as i have, and despite all the remarkable places i can go and things i can be doing, sometimes i just need time to unwind quietly, away from the world, away from other people and interruptions… a retreat, simple as that.
Perhaps i’ll invite you there one day.
Oh, simple thing, where have you gone?
I’m getting old and I need something to rely on
So tell me when, you’re gonna let me in
I’m getting tired and I need somewhere to begin
Keane – Somewhere Only We Know