My anxiety grows as I get to Larkspur, several hours into my drive to Spirit Rock. I stop for a snack, worried the food will be hippie-style brown rice casseroles. When I pull into the parking lot, I'm told I can carry my bags up the hill or put them in a pickup. I heft them, worried it's too indulgent to do otherwise. Later, walking to dinner, people talk tentatively; it's our last chance to speak to one another, and rather than motivating a full-on chat stream, that makes me pretty uninterested in small talk.
Meditating the first night has the allure of the untried. Today I think, "Really? More?" I wonder whether I'm built for so much stillness. I find myself surreptitiously scanning the meditation hall. I covet that woman's cashmere shawl. And, look at her, in logo sweat clothes from the college my younger son will attend in the fall; maybe he'll meet her?
One of the rare chances to talk comes in our small group meetings, about 10 of us with a teacher. I feel unwilling to give much away about myself, and just ask a question. But one woman talks of wanting to move away from Alaska because it's getting harder to live there as she ages; another of the solace meditation has given her as she copes with cerebral palsy. Their stories make me take it all more seriously.