There is this marvelous thing that lives at the Playground.

This is actually something I invented for one of the early Rallies (Rally!), and it’s become a huge part of Rally culture.

It’s the right to decide at any given moment that you don’t feel like talking. And then claiming that right.

You can do it in the middle of a conversation, alone in the bathroom, at lunch, during the Evening Chicken, while wearing a teal wig, whenever you feel like it.

You declare Silent Retreat and then you don’t have to talk!

It’s not really what it sounds like.

That is to say, it’s not actually a silent retreat.

You don’t have to be in silence or remain in silence. And you don’t have to maintain silent retreat mode for any period of time.

It’s just an easy, graceful, temporarily-socially-acceptable exit from any situation.

If someone asks you a question while you’re at the Playground, it’s completely legitimate to answer with “You know what, I’m going to silent retreat on that one.”

And then you can talk about something else. Or not talk at all.

And when people from the outside world ask you what you’re doing in Portland, or your family wants to know what you did all day, claim Silent Retreat!

Or when you get that feeling that you just don’t know what to say. Or you remember that not everything requires a response… call Silent Retreat. Silent Retreat!

It gets you out of any sticky situation.

When someone is ranting.

I’d love to talk about this some more, but I’m on silent retreat.

When people need things from you.

Actually? I’m in the middle of a silent retreat.

When you need a buffer — or a moment to yourself to process things. When you fall into Internet Hangover. When you lose your connection to yourself.

Excuse me. Silent Retreat!

Or like this:

I’m going to answer your first two questions and then I’m going to invoke Silent Retreat for the third.

It’s good for HSPs (Highly Sensitive People) and other stripes of introvert. But really — when it’s part of the agreed-upon culture, the way it is at Rally — it’s good for everyone involved.

It also solves the pre-Rally “oh god we’re going to have to go around in a circle and share things” anxiety. You won’t ever have to do that unless you want to. Silent retreating is always an option.

Silent retreating is a sovereignty practice.

It combines lots of things we talk about here: sovereignty and amnesty, freedom and spaciousness.

If someone else declares silent retreat in the middle of a conversation, it’s not because you did anything wrong. It’s because they need spaciousness and they’re making sure they get it.

It’s another opportunity to separate our stuff from their stuff.

Calling silent retreat makes a lot of space. It’s a creative form of finding a buffer. It helps us with boundaries. And just knowing it’s an option makes all communication and all interactions easier.

The truth is, people hardly ever actually declare Silent Retreat at Rally. At least, not out loud or that I know of. But we know we can!

And it makes everything easier.

The real world!

The concept of silent-retreating is one of the things people miss most when Rally is over.

That and the blanket forts and the brain-flail and the epiphanies and the pie. And Rally glow, of course. 🙂

The idea that we can just declare our choice to not talk — and do this whenever we want to — is one of the aspects of Rally that I am most determined to bring out into the broader culture.

Can you imagine? I love it so much I can hardly stand it.

Person: So what do you do for a living?
Me: Silent Retreat!

My un-laws:
Me: Uh, Silent Retreat!

Person: So six of the top seven roller derby teams in the world are in your division. How is Portland ever going to make it to nationals?
Me: Silent Retreat!

And of course, STYLE!

When I declare silent retreat, I don’t just say it.

I do the Full Body silent retreat. I kind of kick up my legs and throw in some jazz hands and sing SILENT RETREAT!

And then I run away.

It’s kind of awesome.

You can do a more muted, whispered one if you like that better. There’s really no one right way to claim silent retreat. It’s all good.

Silent retreating also kind of exists here on the blog too.

Or it’s implied.

It’s why the comment zen here is always basically a version of: Play — if you want to! Or don’t! That works too.

That’s because the option of SILENT RETREAT is assumed. We don’t always want to say stuff and that’s okay. There are tens of thousands of people who read this blog who never or rarely comment here and that’s good. We adore the Beloved Lurkers.

Speaking of which…play? SILENT RETREAT!

You can play by yelling SILENT RETREAT and running away.

You can play by leaving tiny pebbles.

You can play by brainstorming ways in which we can bring the goodness of randomly claiming silent retreat into the real world the muggle world out there.

It’s all legitimate.

As always, we take responsibility for our own stuff, we let other people have their stuff, and we don’t give unsolicited advice. That is all.

Love to the commenter mice, the Beloved Lurkers, everyone claiming SILENT RETREAT and everyone who reads.

The Fluent Self