The Zen of Timelessness


Next week I’m going to be alone, at home, for four and a half days.

That’s 108 hours or 6,480 minutes.

It’s even 388,800 seconds.

But I hope I’m not going to be counting.

I haven’t been home alone for more than a few hours for, ooooh pinch me, 11 years?

Not since I was pregnant while my husband was away on a business trip and I had to take my 32-weeks-with-twins pregnant self to the hospital and park in the tiniest parking space you ever saw.

(I remember this because I got a round of applause from three men in the car next to me. :-))

So, it’s been a loooong time.

I have been thinking about how to spend my time over these days.

Some would go to a spa, have a facial, get her nails done.

Others would go on a road trip, see the sights, scour the scenery.

And a few would get drunk and sleep in.

But I’m going to do none of these things.

I’m going on a retreat.

But with a difference.

I’m going to stay at home.

I’m going to hole up, relax, and chill out.

But that’s not the difference.

The difference is, I’m not going to know the time.

I’m not going to use any transportation except my own two feet.

And I’m not going to use artificial light.


I was inspired by this post on Mark Sisson’s Daily Apple.

I thought it sounded a cool idea, challenging and perhaps personal growth inspiring.

You see, I have a love/hate relationship with the modern world.

I think we are living through an amazing time.

But I also see that, to someone with an addictive, hyperfocused personality like mine, modern conveniences can pave the way to restlessness, distraction and sloth.

One of my favorite blogs is Modern Retro Woman.

She takes values, ideas and views from the past and looks at how they might be useful to us today.

And I love that.

I want to peel off some of the excess that creeps into my life, deny some of the things I take for granted and restrict my favorite tools that allow me to avoid and procrastinate.

And I want to see what it’s like, what I can learn, how I can benefit.

I want to see how not knowing the time affects how I use it.

Now, I don’t want to white-knuckle this experience.

I’m an introvert and I haven’t spent 11 years almost entirely in the company of other people to then spend an extended period of alone time (which to me is heavenly) being miserable, gritting my teeth, longing for the wanderers to return.

So, here are…

The Rules:

1. No clocks. That’s right, I won’t know the time.

2. No computers, iPhone or Kindle. (They have clocks.)

3. No artificial light.

4. No TV, washing machine, hairdryer or other electrical appliance except those mentioned below.

5. No car – I will walk places if I need to go anywhere.

6. I will have heat – for food, drinks and warmth. I decided to allow myself this modern convenience.

7. I will also use my fridge and freezer.

8. I will not stock up on food – I have enough already and if I don’t, I’ll walk downtown, and consider the journey an opportunity.

9. I will have company – I won’t be entirely alone.

10. I plan to eat healthily but if I am willing to walk downtown (two hour round trip, the second one entirely uphill) to get a Mars Bar, I’m not going to deny myself.

11. I will keep my home landline phone on in case of emergencies but only use it if there is an emergency.

12. I will wear slippers, my new Vibram Five Fingers (squee!) or go barefoot continuously unless I take the trip downtown in which case I’ll pack a pair of tennis shoes.

13. I reserve the right to wear makeup if I want because I won’t be able to use my hairdryer and the sight of me might be just too scary!

My Preparation

I have jotted down some ideas/projects I’d like to do over the days – clearing out closets, framing photos, that kind of thing.

I will turn off all clocks that can be turned off, tape over or put away the others.

I will tape the light switches to prevent the automatic action of turning them on when going into a room.

I have bought candles. (Holiday ones at half price! That made me happy…but will I have enough?)

Friends have been told what I’m doing and invited to randomly knock on my door. But they can’t take me anywhere in their cars and they are under strict instructions not to tell me the time or even wear a watch! But we can go for a walk or have a cup of tea around my kitchen table.

Is there anything else I should think of?

My Expectations

I think I’ll get a bit nervous at the beginning (heck, I’m a bit nervous just writing about it.) Four days can be a loooooong time if you’re hating every minute of it.

I’ll get some projects done.

I’ll be extremely productive to start with.

Then I’ll get bored and restless, craving all the things I’d given up especially not knowing what the time is.

Then I’ll relax into it and time will speed up.

My sleep/wake cycle will stay steady and perhaps even settle further.

I’ll sleep when I’m tired and waken when I’m ready.

Maybe I’ll even finally learn to stop my thoughts long enough to meditate!

After The Experiment

I plan to come back to this post and see if my theories held up.

I’ll handcode a blog or two (that means I’ll journal) about the experience during the week and then type them up later as blog posts.

And I’ll see what I’ve learned from the experience.

I’ve wanted to do a timelessness retreat for many years.

Going the extra mile by doing without a clutch of modern conveniences will be a good but doable challenge.

I was a Girl Scout and got many, many badges.

But calculating the time from the position of the sun, moon and stars was never my strongest suit, so I’ll be guessing.

A lot.

Wish me luck!

Have I forgotten anything? What do you think will happen? Would you try this yourself? Let me know in the comments!

Read about my first day and the lessons I learned from my week without a car, computer, caffeine or clocks…

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

DrJulieAnn aka The Modern Retro Woman
January 5, 2012 at 7:15 am

This sounds fabulous!!!

The Mister and I watched “The Maltese Falcon” the other night and I was struck by a short scene where the sun was coming up and they just instinctively started turning off the lights.

I’m excited for you (and a bit envious) as you uncoil yourself from modernity on your retreat. It sounds like heaven to this fellow introvert. 🙂
DrJulieAnn aka The Modern Retro Woman recently posted..Wise Words of the Day: CalmnessMy Profile


Alison Golden January 5, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Yes, extroverts have been horrified at the idea! 🙂


January 5, 2012 at 7:23 am

This is a great experiment Alison–one that only an intrepid former Girl Scout (with many badges) could conceive, let alone pull off.

I love the idea of not doing the usual routine. I imagine you’re going to learn some new things about yourself, cuz let’s face it, being alone with oneself for the majority of the time is no easy task. Damn, I don’t think I could do it…

Every other Sunday, I have a ritual I call Silent Sunday where I don’t talk. Well, with the exception of saying, “Thank you,” or “No that spot’s not taken in front” while grocery shopping or hitting the gym. It’s really just peaceful and quiet and a great way to rejuvenate.

Good luck, and I’ll miss you…let us know via FB page when it starts okay?
Linda recently posted..Got Anxiety? 7 Minutes of Stress Relief and RelaxationMy Profile


Alison Golden January 5, 2012 at 4:51 pm

See? This is why we’re friends! That Sunday-no-talking thing. That’s *exactly* what I would do if I had the opportunity. In fact I do have the opportunity some days. I’ll try it. And yes, I’ll be saying my goodbyes on FB. I appreciate you missing me. 🙂


Karen Howes January 5, 2012 at 7:32 am

I agree — sounds really exciting! We look forward to hearing about it. As far as things you may have forgotten, I know you said you weren’t going to stockpile food, but you might think about making sure you have enough cat food so you don’t have to carry it!

I think if I had a free week (and the moolah) I’d go on a language-immersion week, or maybe an activity week. I’d want, I think, not to have to make decisions. Your cleaning out closets or similar projects would be OK if there were going to be someone there to ensure I actually did it!

Enjoy and let us know the results!! Karen xx


Alison Golden January 5, 2012 at 4:53 pm

That’s an excellent point about the cat food, Karen. I only thought of it yesterday and yes, I have enough. But easy to overlook the furry family members and it is a long way back uphill from the shop. :-/


El Edwards
January 5, 2012 at 1:33 pm

Wow! This sounds very brave. I know that restless feeling well. It happens to me routinely when I have an evening to myself. I’ll spend half the day planning all the cool stuff I’ll get done and then wind up feeling lonely and mucking about on twitter to kill the time. Therefore my brain is currently going all bendy at the thought of this challenge. I can’t wait to hear all about it when you’re done. 🙂
El Edwards recently posted..When someone says, ‘I love you’, how do you respond?My Profile


Alison Golden January 5, 2012 at 4:55 pm

Oh, don’t you just hate that when it happens? I have been guilty of that too many times. I really find when I unplug (and commit in public to doing it, that keeps me honest) that restlessness goes away. It really is a drug thing this computer stuff. And if you unplug, you get to the point where, like a piece of cake, you can look at it and say, ‘No, thank you’ without being troubled.


Lauren January 5, 2012 at 5:20 pm

Sounds fabulous! Enjoy!!

P.S. Wanna come over and hang out on the back porch (or I could visit you)?


Lauren January 5, 2012 at 6:55 pm

🙂 I was assuming we’d say something like “Friday morning” and you could knock on my door and we’d head around the house to the back porch (hence no clocks)… Your choice, friend! I’m glad to come to you, too.


Darlene January 6, 2012 at 5:22 am

This will be a very exciting experience for you.
I’d recommend you take each day at a time.
The time is YOURS to use it however you desire to.
You have nothing to worry about.
Take advantage of it.

Have every week chores like laundry, etc be done ahead of time so you don’t worry about those things that have to be done.
I would also recommend your spaces are clear of anything that may distract you and remind you of things that must get done.
Declutter your mind by writing down all the things you need to do.
If you get in the mood of doing some of those things because you get bored during one of these FREE days you have, you can simply do them, without planning them in advance.

It is wonderful to do whatever you please with your time.
Take advantage of this experience.
I am pretty sure you are going to love it.
You might even decide to make it a weekend habit once a month.


Alison Golden January 6, 2012 at 7:24 am

I think this is really great advice, Darlene. Thank you. I’ll get onto those chores this weekend. 🙂


joyce January 6, 2012 at 5:24 pm

I learn a lot of great advice in your blog..Hope you can post again more useful blog..
joyce recently posted..Student Insurance AdviceMy Profile


January 8, 2012 at 2:19 pm


You crazy woman. LOL. I love your ideas. I would need to leave the house and go into the woods to do this (and I would except for people thinking I am crazy. Lol.) I never tell people how I would really like to live, they would all want to get me a shrink. Ha ha. I don’t like being around people, they get in my way of what I want, lol. I would go live somewhere away and quiet. My friends and family think I am crazy.

How will you spend your time? Reading books, cooking and cleaning? Walks? Without distractions time will go by slower.

I can’t wait to hear how this goes.

I read a blog about a woman who lives up in Alaska. She has not ditched modern conveniences but she does live closer to the ebb and flow of nature. I love reading about her survival. She is a hunter, so the stories are rather interesting. Her name is Alaska Chick. Her life is so different than mine, I find her stories interesting.

As I do yours too. Our lives are not much different, just our life styles. I admire your tenacity. I live thru you at times, just like I do with Alaska Chick. Both inspirational.

Until next time,
Allie recently posted..Back to the Blogging GrindMy Profile


Alison Golden January 14, 2012 at 4:15 pm

I know. English eccentric. When I told my husband, he wondered out loud how on earth we got married. ‘That is just too weird,’ he said. I like challenging myself like this. Most of the time parenthood is quite enough of a challenge for me, however. 😉
Alison Golden recently posted..The Zen of TimelessnessMy Profile


Share January 9, 2012 at 12:00 am

Sounds amazingly brave of you to do! I think what would make me the most nervous is not knowing what time it was.
What about music? Please don’t cut out music.
As my son says music=life
Share recently posted..A lot of time to thinkMy Profile


Alison Golden January 14, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Yes, I should have had some music. I love the quiet but now it’s over, I think some music would have been good. It was great, though, to hear the birds sing. Thanks for stopping by!
Alison Golden recently posted..The Zen of TimelessnessMy Profile


Gracie January 11, 2012 at 9:22 pm

I think what would make me the most nervous is not knowing what time it was.Thank you for sharing this to us..Really amazing..
Gracie recently posted..PPI ClaimsMy Profile


Mary E. Ulrich
January 15, 2012 at 5:49 am

Alison, lots of great ideas but remember this is YOUR OWN TIME.

That means you can also change your mind if it isn’t working for YOU.

Ambitious goals are great, but when something as rare as a couple days by yourself comes along–ENJOY them and rest. Prepare for the next 11 years when you might not get another opportunity. Why not just try this for one day with the option of going to two…? My friend, I love the way you are always challenging yourself and trying to be more healthy, but remember to just love yourself too.
Mary E. Ulrich recently posted..Gifts|Grandma Gets a ThongMy Profile


Alison Golden January 15, 2012 at 11:54 am

Aww, thank you Mary for being concerned about me. I had a lovely week – very quiet and relaxing – there’s not really anything to do when it’s dark except read and write. And it was dark for 14 hours a day in my part of the world. I’ll tell all about it in my next blog post. 😉
Alison Golden recently posted..The Zen of TimelessnessMy Profile


Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: