...except for the “creative” part, which was a real stumbling block for this book-blogging accountant. Even when I was much younger and used to draw pictures all the time (like my mother), I never really thought I was especially “creative.” I’ve come to consider myself a writer during the last five years, but most of what I write about is what other people write. Where’s the creativity in that?
While CA’12 gave participants a packed agenda--two full days of dual-tracked breakouts and group discussions, plus meals and even a couple of field trips--almost nothing was mandatory, and impromptu conversations could be just as significant than planned ones. My friend Kim was adamant about calling the weekend a “retreat,” not a “conference,” and that was another reason it appealed to me. I’m a Catholic-school veteran, and to me, the concept of a “retreat” implies something deeper than what a “conference” provides--not necessarily a dramatic personal epiphany, but at least the potential for getting some sort of clarity, even if it needs to simmer for awhile first.
I needed to simmer, which is why I haven’t posted much except pictures from the weekend before this. I’d wondered if I’d feel some sort of emotional shift or come upon some profound insight during CA’12. I didn’t--which, honestly, was a bit of a letdown at the time--but in the days afterward, I've become more aware that it affected me profoundly. I trust the connections--mental, emotional, and personal--that I made during that weekend...and they've made me more trusting of the connections I’ve already made through five and a half years of living online.
The CA'12 participants have a group on Facebook, where most of us are still active almost daily, and a few have already shared new ventures and plans inspired or nurtured by that weekend in Ojai. I don’t know if that will happen for me, but even if it doesn't, I do feel much more assured that the path I'm on already is the right one for me, right now--and that's something. As much as I’d like to do more freelance writing, piling it on top of my day job--which I'm not in a position to leave--is straining me, and so this isn't the best time to ramp up that particular pursuit. At the same time, I have a renewed fondness for this space of my own, where I can pursue whatever I want to write (and read) about, on my own terms, and which gives me a place in more than just one authentic, vibrant, and multi-faceted community.