58 Days of Self-Imposed Isolation
Chapter 1: No Perfect Time
It was pitch black. A torrent of rain and wind whipped through my tiny one-room cottage. I pulled the door closed that first night to discover a baby bat bleeding out on the mosquito net of my bed. I took a deep breath telling myself ‘It’s the jungle, there will be creatures.’ Then a tremor shook me and I thought ‘what the hell am I doing? An injured bat is not a good omen.’ This was my first test, so I scrambled under the mosquito net and waited for the bat to make the first move.
I’d just arrived in a remote part of the Costa Rican rainforest for 58 days of self-imposed isolation. Screw the bat, it turned out it was one of the best things I’ve ever done – for myself.
The idea of taking an extended time alone, away from all the noise and “busyness” of life, had been knocking around in my head for almost a decade. So many times I came close to pulling myself away from all the things and people I thought needed me close, but every time so many things stopped me. I always found reasons not to go. Or lame excuses. Finally, I conceded … there is never a perfect time. So I committed, I was really, finally going to do it.
To get used to the idea, I just started slowly floating test balloons out to my friends and family. Of course, I got mixed reactions from “I couldn’t do that” followed by lots of “I wish I could do that” to my mostly A-types friends asking, “What are you going to do for eight weeks?” And I’ll admit all those questions were swirling around my head too, but I never really worried about filling up the time. Eight weeks in Costa Rica swimming, walking the beach, eating papaya, biking the coast with piles of books bedside sounded like… nirvana! But then my A-type, evil productivity voice took over, ‘this is a big opportunity, you’re damn lucky you can do this. You MUST make it meaningful. You need to have a concrete output; write a book, or a screenplay, develop a new business plan or all of the above.’ But then sanity, mostly in the voice of Richard, prevailed. “Don’t set any expectations for what it will be; just do it.”
So I did.
From January 6th to March 6th I spent 58 glorious days all BY MYSELF! I set out to turn off the noise and distractions, eschew all technology to see if ink would flow from pen to paper. I wanted to sink into challenging books and find out if my desire to write for myself was real, or whether I’d just leave a trail of empty tequila bottles in my wake. Luckily it turned out to be mostly the former – although to be honest, a few margaritas did pass my lips 😉
A few days before I left to return home I was reflecting with my wise Airbnb host, Kiana, talking about how my trip started with such an ominous sign (ultimately dead bat) and ended with a joyful sense of rejuvenation. And Kiana laughed and told me “oh no, a bat isn’t bad luck, a bat is a symbol of rebirth!”
COMING SOON: 58 DAYS OF SELF-IMPOSED ISOLATION
PART TWO: SMARTPHONES ARE CRACK. I NEEDED REHAB
How 58 days without phone, laptops and internet transformed my thinking. About just about everything.