Why Bother Taking Time?

Why Bother Taking the Time?

This weekend is my writer’s group’s annual retreat. We spend the majority of our days secluded in our private rooms to write, read or sleep and then mingle in the evening over a meal, movie or a stroll. This is not the first time we’ve retreated together, but it is the first time that I’ve appreciated the newer members of our group. 


Over the course of the time that I’ve been a member of this group, at least fifteen years, new members have joined while other members have left. This particular group of women at the retreat consisted of some of the newer members, ones that I’ve only known for a few years. 

My cohorts, I will call them Madge, Meryl, and Maggie, and myself, made for a smaller group, since two other members could not make it, but it gave the four of us the chance to get to know each other better. 

It’s been said that nothing worthwhile happens in sixty seconds and anything that will last takes longer to develop. Consider how “friends” can be added and deleted from Facebook accounts with a click compared to friendships formed and maintained while spending time face to face. 

These last few days gave me the opportunity to spend more time with the newer members of our group. Though they’ve come to monthly meetings, I did not really like or appreciate them for their unique perspectives, until now.

Take Madge for example. When she first started coming to our meetings, she felt like a burr under my saddle. She over analyzes points in a person’s writing that seemed trivial to me. Her questions unnerved me. Then yesterday, while sitting on the veranda of our villa, the group critiqued a piece of my writing and I had that unnerving feeling again when Madge opened her mouth. “I just don’t get what do you expect the reader to do with your statement that you make here”

“Nothing other than to think about it.”

“But it seems too important of a statement to just leave out there for them to consider without actually doing something with it.”

“Oh bother,” was my first thought, but then I looked over at Madge and really considered her. Her point of view about that sentence was different from mine. Not all of my readers will think like I do. Some will actually think like Madge. I pressed her to tell me what she thought I should do and smiled at her thought, it was actually a good one worth considering. 

Then there is Meryl, the oldest and the most eccentric of our group. Her style of writing matches her fashions, a little out of this world. Though I respect her as a writer, I’ve never connected with her personally until just the other evening when we took a stroll after dinner. In the time it took for her to wear out from the walk, less than a mile, I discovered her sense of humor, her perspective about the unseen world, and her deep sense of contentment. 

Finally, there is my familiar friend and member of the group, Maggie. Maggie’s personality is easy to be around. We’ve spent lots of years together critiquing each other’s writing, sharing ideas and points of view about topics. But, without having spent that time with her, I’d not come to appreciate and value her. 

Why bother taking the time? Nothing worthwhile ever comes instantaneously, but when we do take the time, we will know that it’s been worth our while. 


Why Bother To Try Something New?

Why Bother To Try Something New?

I am gearing up to go backpacking. I bought or borrowed everything I will need. While packing my new backpack, I discovered pouches I did not know I had and filled them to the brim with dried fruit and dehydrated oatmeal. I have read the directions for using my water purification system and hydration pack. More than once, I watched a video on how to use my bear spray. I tried the self-inflating sleeping pad and discovered it really does self inflate. Following the directions, I practiced setting up my one person tent. I pressed my sleeping bag into a compression bag and attached a whistle to an accessible loop on my waterproof hiking pants. I think I am ready, yet I won’t know for sure until I am actually out on the trail.

Something New

Although I call myself a hiker, backpacking is something new. I like being outside and admired at first, from a distance, a fellow writer who backpacks alone. A member of my writing group, and a wonderful editor, she has not written or submitted any historical fiction pieces, her preferred genre, to the group for a while. Last summer, at our writer’s retreat, I asked her why she stopped writing. “I want to have some new adventures of my own. Then I will have some real adventures to write about.” 

I listened as she told me about her hikes along the Idaho Centennial Trail and became intrigued how she traverses trails, alone in the wilderness. Her company, she said, included the earth and sky and an occasional critter. Then I asked if she would ever consider taking me along on one of those wild hikes of hers. Without hesitating, she nodded and said yes.  

And so began a different sort of relationship between us. We are both still writers, but we’ve extended ourselves beyond the confines of our writer’s group and out into the open space of nature. Doing something new has a way of broadening friendships. 

She helped me prepare for this new activity called backpacking, one that I am now committed to, by accompanying me on a shopping spree. She helped fit me for a backpack, counseled me on cooking systems and explained the gadgets included in water filtration packages. I now respect her knowledge and appreciate her patience, two things I previously did not have insights about. Doing something new can give us a greater appreciation for someone. 

What attracted me to this fresh venture is that it is uncharted territory. It requires more stamina than any other physical activity I already engage in simply because of the number of miles accompanied by the weight of my gear. Yet, I don’t mind being active in a different way. 

Our  goal, my friend assures me, is not necessarily to cover a large number of miles, only to go somewhere unexplored, to see unfamiliar landscapes and experience adventure.

Why bother to try something new. It is worth it to venture out into untested territory. Then we will have something new to write about, or at least to talk about with our new friend.