A Moment Of Retreat

Every book I write has a soundtrack.

A few days after getting started, when all the ideas are swirling around my mind and nothing has taken a hard shape yet, a song will appear out of a random playlist and grin at me. Here I am!

That song will keep me company for the rest of the project. It’s uncanny. The song chooses me, and the book, and it echoes through what I write.

I don’t know where it comes from, but it’s always perfect and the books wouldn’t be the same without it.

For Carline Anglade-Cole’s book, it was Jackie and Wilson by Hozier.

For Brian Kurtz, it was Be The One by Dua Lipa.

For Molly Pittman, it was Lake Shore Drive by Aliotta Haynes Jeremiah.

And for the book I’m working on now, it’s Fame, by Mikky Ekko.

Mikky Ekko’s music lifts me completely out of myself. It takes me somewhere transcendent, into a place where there is no time, no consequence.

Eyes closed, listening, I forget what day it is, where I am, everything that’s waiting on me. In a single song, I find weightlessness, freedom and utter clarity.

The only other thing that does this for me is writing. Both create a moment of pure retreat, of pure emptiness — a moment away from the world, just to breathe, and find myself again.

And we need these moments of retreat.

Yes, life is beautiful. It can be goddamn GLORIOUS.

But it can also be an onslaught, and sometimes retreat is the only option for saving ourselves, regrouping, figuring out what’s next.

Sometimes it’s the only way to face it all: from a distance, alone and in silence.

That’s what writing, and this song, give to me — the space to come and be silent with myself. To gather up the debris and build myself a fire that will make me brave. To hear my own voice ringing out from the darkness, calling me onwards.

And that’s what I hope all these pieces will help you create for yourself, too: a retreat, a moment that belongs entirely to you, where you can hear yourself and decide what comes next.

It doesn’t matter if you’re not a writer (or if you can’t stand Mikky Ekko’s music).

You see, writing is deeply democratic. You can access it whenever you choose, as often as you want, no strings attached.

You don’t need any qualifications to start — just the belief that your life matters, and that there’s some value in exploring your own thoughts.

The point is not for other people to read it, but for you to validate your own worth and to get closer to the truth of yourself.

I think most of us have a sense, not fully explored, that we could be incredible. That we could be so much more than we’ve been led to believe.

And the only way to find the veins of gold buried beneath our outer surfaces is to start digging.

But to unearth something so huge, we need to be working unencumbered, and so the work starts by paring away all the stuff we’ve accumulated over the years.

We need to put down all the fears, expectations and limits that don’t belong to us.

We need space. We need time with ourselves, without the pressure of being observed or feeling like there’s something we have to deliver.

And so today, I would like to invite you to find a moment of retreat.

Whether it’s listening to a song with your eyes closed, or taking pen to paper — for a paragraph or for pages — I invite you to spend some time in your own company.

Give yourself the gift of presence, free from judgement or expectation.

I hope it brings you that moment of weightlessness, and that you start to get a sense of what treasures might be hiding within you.