Another Aiki Summer Retreat ("aikido camp") is done. This went much better than last year, when I didn't stay on campus and spent the time feeling very disconnected from the group and the experience. The Mount Baldy trip gave me a radically different perspective on what these experiences are really about for me: whatever activities I'm doing only form a backdrop for my experience of what I'm feeling. The aikido is good, or the Zen meditation is good, but the important thing happening is that I pull myself out of my regular routine and into a situation that pushes more of my buttons. We quite naturally arrange our everyday lives to minimize our anxiety, but we only really grow when we encounter and work through those anxieties, and anything labeled "retreat" should do something to make you psychologically uncomfortable. For me, in addition to a week of good aikido and fun hanging out with the extended aikido family, I got a week of little twitchy mood changes to manage. I'm much, much better at this than I was a year ago, so I had a lot more fun and got a lot more out of the button-pushing.
The depth and complexity of my relationships never fail to astonish me. I think I need a lightweight low-investment high-sex relationship for a few months. Get some perspective, stay in practice connecting with people.
I played my guitar a lot at the retreat. Following the feeling that a bunch of cosmic threads are converging on me over the next couple of years, I'm noticing my voice getting richer and my guitar playing getting more comfortable, and I'm starting to be able to do both at once. The future's many surprises may include my actually being able to write songs.
I suppose, though I don't always see it as such, that everything is as it should be, and nothing is out of place.