The day before I headed to Cloona (for details of my stay there see the previous post) I read an article in the Irish Times by Pico Iyer, originally published in the New York Times as, ‘The Joy of Quite’, – (to read it click here )) which examined our plugged-in-infomation-overloaded-lives. He suggests that the future of travel may well lie in ‘black hole resorts’ where it will not be possible to go online and where there will be no televisions in the rooms.
I knew, as I travelled there, that my six-day stay at Cloona would be a sequestered one: without radio, television or Wi-Fi and without the multiple distractions that go with them. So, what did I do and how did I survive? The programme: morning yoga, an am and a pm walk, plus three slowly-eaten meals, took up a good bit of the day. Of course I chatted with my fellow guests. And I went to bed early, hoping to kick-start an early to bed early to rise habit. I also brought some distractions with me: the unread weekend papers, a magazine, a few books, two sets of pencils and some notebooks. My iPhone came too but I tried to keep its use to an absolute minimum; I succeeded because I can remember (for the first time, in any given week) how many times I used it.
I never once felt bored and yes there was joy in the unplugged quite. Nor did I feel the world was closing in on me, paradoxically as my world shrank and was corralled into a few square miles, away from the quotidian cacophony, I felt my mind was opening up. Many things that Pico Iyer said in his article resonated with me. One of them was ‘it’s only by having some distance from the world that you can see it whole and understand what you should be doing with it’ . I would highly recommend, to anyone, a retreat of some sort. I am already thinking of what I might do next year. A silent retreat? Maybe, just maybe!