home about us advertise with us subscribe to Jonesboro Occasions submit an event contact download the 2008 datebook
give a gift subscription

a reflective retreat
Editorial By Susan O'Connor, Illustration by Brittney Guest

Last month, a realization came to me. It was something that has crossed my mind many times over the last several years but this time I thought, “enough is enough.”

My issue is crowds — and more specifically, holiday crowds. I will never, ever go to a mall again on any weekend from late November to mid-January. I am a last minute Christmas shopper so out of necessity I must venture out occasionally during the season. But I will choose a Monday or Tuesday, early in the day.

This is absolutely not a fear of crowds, or enochlophobia. I am not afraid. My feelings stem from the commercialism of Christmas — the insane drive to buy, buy, buy more and more stuff. Think about it. Of all the Christmas gifts you received, how many did you need or even really want?

But, truly, I am not a shopper or a gambler at any time of the year. If I go with a group to shop, or to a casino, I am bored very quickly and restless. If I travel, the very last thing I want to do is shop for “stuff.” I want to sit at a sidewalk café and soak up the atmosphere, or spend more time on the beach, or read by the crackling fire at a lodge. Maybe I am an anomaly. Or maybe I’m becoming more of a hermit with each passing year.

So, on Black Friday last year, I headed for my cabin in the woods. The day was unbelievably beautiful on Cooper Creek. The grasses of summer that crowd the shallow areas of the creek had died, allowing cold, clear water to rush like a mountain stream over smooth rocks. Especially in winter, the sound of the creek is mesmerizing. Bright sun and crisp breezes alternately brought goose bumps and warmth as I sat on the front porch. The stark beauty of bare limbs amid huge cedars towered over me as a fire crackled inside, a warm promise.

There I was, alone with my laptop, doing what writers everywhere do as they contemplate — staring into space, waiting for the right thought, the perfect phrase, an adjective that fits snugly. And there were no distractions, unless beauty can be considered such. No laundry to do, no daily chores calling me to procrastination. No phone service, no Internet, no outside world — just a perfect venue for inspiration.

Someday, I hope to leave the hectic everyday work world behind and concentrate on the craft of writing — just me and a laptop, doing what comes naturally, stringing together thoughts into meaningful forms. Hopefully, in time, I’ll leave a legacy of worthwhile words like a trail behind me.