My flight landed on Wednesday night, and then, I realized I was at the Pittsburgh International Airport and not the Cleveland Hopkins Airport. That meant I had to drive my car from Pittsburgh to Cleveland to get home, an additional two hours added on to the end of several weeks of traveling.
When I arrived home late Wednesday night, I didn’t have much time to say hello to my wife and kids before they went to bed. On Thursday, I had to get up and take care of some of my basic needs, like getting groceries and doing my laundry. I couldn’t rely on my family members to help, as they were at work and school.
That took me most of Thursday, which left Friday to prepare for the private writers’ retreat I was hosting in Cleveland on Saturday and Sunday.
The only other thing I would have been looking forward to more than a weekend retreat after 2½ weeks of traveling across the country was a root canal. This had nothing to do with the people who I knew were coming to my event in Cleveland and everything to do with my mental and physical exhaustion. Two days to recover from a three-hour time zone change after several weeks without an introvert recharge, that seemed like cruel and unusual punishment.
But when I woke up on Saturday morning and started thinking about the presentation I had spent months preparing, it was as if I had been home resting for a week before the event. My mind filled with excitement about the dynamic I knew would spark when a group of people with a shared passion got into a room together.
Sure, I was the one in charge of the event and therefore, burdening the responsibility of sticking to the agenda and leading the group throughout the weekend. But every person in that room contributed in a way that made the event feel warm, loving, and useful.
People traveled from other cities, other states, and other continents to be there. I took that responsibility seriously. I understood the costs of time, money, and energy required to attend this weekend retreat, and those people were going to get nothing but my absolute best effort.
As it turns out, not all interactions with people sap my introvert energies. In fact, standing in front of that group on Saturday and Sunday recharged me in a way that I hadn’t thought possible. I’m not turning in my INTJ card anytime soon, but it was another reminder that often, the labels we put on ourselves are not permanent, and they are certainly context-dependent.
I woke up on the Monday morning after the retreat and had planned to continue with my normal routine. A few hours into the workday, my headache was so severe that I felt like vomiting. I kept the hard requirements I had, such as recording podcast episodes, but in between those appointments, I laid on the couch with my eyes closed, trying to ignore the thumping in my head.
I went to bed at 7 p.m. on Monday night and woke up at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning. Yes, the travel and the events finally caught up to me. That was inevitable. But I would do it all over again because I think it was a small price to pay for the honor and opportunity to share myself with that special group of people who came all the way to Cleveland just to attend my event.
We do have the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame and Museum here in Cleveland, Ohio, but I’m not sure any of the people who came into town for the weekend visited the Rock Hall. I’m proud to say, they all attended the weekend retreat.
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