I’m sitting on the old footbridge that leads to my cabin in the woods. Beaver Creek passes silently below. Ducks fly overhead. Ferns, cardinal flowers and moss grow amid grey rocks at the water’s edge. Spiders wander over my notebooks, which are spread out on the bridge’s rough planks, pages held open by stones.
This is the place that inspired this book. By the creek and in the forest, I discovered a rich inner dimension I didn't know existed. Far from my city life and work-obsessed routines, I began to know what gives my life meaning. And to recognize the value of protecting a divine spark, though I’m not religious, and of amplifying the extraordinary—nature, spirit, art, creative thinking—in impoverished times. A retreat means removing yourself from society, to a quiet place where moments are strung like pearls, and after long days apart in inspiring surroundings, you return home refreshed and with a new sense of what you want to do with your life.
In the fraught modern era, you’d think our timeless human desire to retreat would feel more urgent than ever. Yet taking a step back has become an act of 21st century rebellion when disengaging, even briefly, is seen by many as self-indulgent, unproductive and anti-social. But to retreat is as basic a human need as being social. To withdraw from the everyday is about making breathing space for what illuminates a life.