Knowing When to Retreat


July 4, 2020. Happy Birthday, “We the People!” As I begin my 1,000-mile drive northward to my personal retreat, I reflect on the road our country has taken and my mind hangs on those words which begin our Constitution. We the People. What a grand idea it was, 244 years ago – a strong statement against monarchies and for every-man. A statement of faith, really, that the people can and should rule themselves, through elected representatives.

Our founding fathers (no mothers involved in those days) had a clear vision. But clear has given way to cloudy. The optimistically-named United States seems more fractured now than at any time in my lifetime. On our nation’s birthday, I feel more sad than festive.

I have an embedded urge to fix things…human things. It’s built in; I’m not sure why. But I can’t fix this. So, I will retreat. Again. Because sometimes you just have to get away–mentally, emotionally, and physically. Sometimes you have to unplug from social media and remember who we are (most of us): We, the people. More good than bad. More generous than stingy. Mostly, we believe in the Golden Rule. Mostly, we want to get along.

The experiment called the United States continues, and each of us is a data point in it. This fall, we will all have the chance to express our values at the ballot box once again. My head hurts just thinking about that — so I won’t, for awhile. I’m “pulling chocks” (removing the wedges from my wheels) and heading for the north woods. After 18 hours behind the wheel, I’ll be swinging in my hammock again on the shores of Huron Bay. When I’ve recharged, I’ll leave my retreat and reengage with the world. Maybe.

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