Alone—no food—no drink—no watch, phone, electronics of any kind—no reading, or writing—being silent—these are the general rules of a Vision Quest.

Day 1:  In silence, I was led to my spot in the forest—a small thicket at the foot of a huge oak tree—in the Jura region in France, of all places. The sunny clearing allotted to me was just about the size of my tent. This was to be my home for the next four days, four nights—How hard could it be? I thought.

The weather was perfect—just the right kind of warm, with no rain in the forecast. At least I hadn’t been plunked down in a burning desert, a humid rainforest, or on the frozen tundra. Keeping silent? Whoa, now that could be a challenge. Not because I’m one to walk around talking and singing all day, but I have been known to blather on with my favorite trio: me, myself, and I, or at the very least, with my dogs. And let’s face it, the minute we’re told we can’t do something, that’s all we want to do. Right?

I immediately set to pitching my tent. It was new. I had all the time in the world, well, all day at least if I wanted to sleep under cover, so I took my time reading the instructions, which I would normally never do. I guess I’m like a guy in that respect. Ten minutes later (remember, I’m taking my time), the Mutha Hubba was up. And no, I did not make that name up, MSR, the manufacturer did.

Then I decided to unpack the few things I took along on this adventure, things like baby wipes (no showers in the wild, unless it rains), toothbrush (does toothpaste count as food?), flashlight (to chase away animals in the dark or at least to see my attacker before it ate me), and an emergency bottle of water (for peace of mind). That took all of 30 seconds. At this point, I became obsessed with time. I never wear a watch, so this struck me as really weird. I checked the sky for the placement of the sun. Taking into account what time it was when I left the guesthouse and the present position of the sun in the incredibly blue, blue sky, I determined that I still had 3.9 days and four nights to go. I stuck a twig in the ground, hoping its shadow would have better news—it didn’t.

Then it hit me. Literally, a big fat bug flew into my face and bounced off my cheek. So much for silence—but it made me ask myself, What’s the rush? Who cares what time it is! The whole reason for this vision quest was for me to make time for metime without the distractions and responsibilities of daily life. Besides the fact that as a child, I thought anything that involved a quest was the most fantasmagorical thing a person could do. A quest was the chance to become a hero, or in my case a heroine. Just the word—QUEST—made my heart want to fly out of my chest. So when the opportunity to go on a vision quest presented itself, I knew I had to do it. It would give me time to travel within—to uncharted places inside myself—to seek out that heroine—to discover things about myself I didn’t already know—like who I really am, my needs, and desires. In short, my intention for this quest was to shed light on me in my world—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Happy and relaxed, I rolled Big Agnes out on the ground (my sleeping bag—who names these things?) and took a nap. I dreamed of beautiful Indian maidens, handsome young braves, and the Dalai Lama, who told me to enjoy my peace and quiet while I could.

Hmmm… So when I awoke, I took his advice. Until the sun slipped behind the treetops, turning the sky burnt-orange behind a mixed canopy of oaks and pines, I watched huge, puffy clouds skip across the blue sky to an ever-changing melody of buzzes, chirps, and tweets. When I eventually sat up, I noticed an inchworm crawling along my sundial—

image compliments of

Where could he possibly be going besides up one side and down the other? Which is exactly what he did, but why? (I’m only assuming it was a ‘he’—I didn’t look that closely.) Then I watched a teeny, tiny, spider finish spinning her silken web. For days, she hardly moved at all, patiently waiting for a meal, until—on night three, by the silver light of the moon, in a frenzy to escape my idyllic spot, I inadvertently destroyed her home while tearing down my tent—

Ah yes, well, I’ll save that story for another time—

I think William Faulkner said it best, “Clocks slay time—time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops, does time come to life.”

Any thoughts you’d like to share about time? Too much, too little, too fast, too slow? I’d love to hear from you.

About Donna Gwinnell Lambo-Weidner

I am an adventure seeking ponderer of the mysteries of the universe, writer of children's books (represented by Stephen Fraser of the Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency), and lover of anything involving armor, archery, or swashbuckling.
This entry was posted in ADVENTURES, HUMOR, TEACHINGS FROM THE FAR NORTH and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to FOUR DAYS, FOUR NIGHTS—

  1. ubensmom says:

    I have no thoughts on time other than I wish I could manage to spend a bit more of it sleeping at night! I do have thoughts on the spider. During our last trip to France there were spiders in high corners of both bathrooms. Both were working away and were happily living up in their spots. I had the thought to knock one down but thought about how that spider had worked hard to make a web and would run for his life just like I would if attacked. Even the smallest insects have that survival instinct and what gives me the right to end a life? Not sure if the spiders will make it through the winter in a house with no heat but I’ll be looking for them in the spring. The scorpions pose more of a dilemma since they sting and hurt like the dickens but my principle still applies. Flies, well they can surely be a bother but I really hurt for them stuck to a fly strip last year. Do I need to get help? And there’s MY daily blog entry! xos


  2. airline7 says:

    It seems like the time I get to unwind from my many responsibilities is either in a hotel room on a layover or at home when I have gone through an illness or injury and am recovering. Is sickness and injury an opportunity to assess your life and priorities. Possibly. At least one can make it so. It is a difficult process. I have a friend who was out of work for a year fighting cancer. She felt it was an opportunity for the necessary downtime to spend with her family. She had such a positive attitude towards it, she inspired me. I have now been out of work for 4 months and have enjoyed such calm and peace. It didn’t start out that way. I was in my usual rushed state when my injury occurred and it took a month at least to come to a place of acceptance of my situation and to start the process of slowing my brain down and calming myself. I truly get the metaphor of being like a hamster on its wheel, spinning and going nowhere. I feel so amazingly centered now and ready to return to work and to most of all, hopefully, hold on to this feeling of calm and peace and centerdness in my work.


    • All so true Ailine. Sometimes we need to be hit over the head to slow down. I find taking a deep, deep breath and letting it out very slowly brings me back to that centered space–not always, but more and more. You’ll make ‘flying the friendly skies’ a reality, I’m sure.


  3. Sue LaNeve says:

    From your other work, I knew you were multidimensional, but this post brings new meaning to that description. As for pacing. . .only one word comes to mind. More!


  4. MWKemmerer says:

    Ahh Donna, we haven’t been in contact for years – Talk about time and how quickly it passes.
    Reading about your adventure, I’m envious not about the opportunity so much but more about your courage to be willing to spend four days alone. I can’t wait to read more about this experience.


  5. Alexa MacPherson says:

    Will you write about days two, three and four? Not sure I could give up reading for four days!


  6. Vic says:

    I loved the descriptions of the scenery. Is that really THE inchworm? I also wondered what happened during days 2 and 3. Any other dreams? I’m always impressed by the things you do! I would never, ever, ever, want to do a lot of them but good for you!


    • Donna says:

      No, unfortunately, it’s not THE worm…no cameras either, but this one could be his brother. I wonder if in twenty years my memory will grow that worm into a snake…hmmm.


  7. Doug says:

    I’m not sure but I thought the quest was for an inner vision that revealed a purpose, and the lack of food and water was to induce hallucinations(visions) which were to be messages in metaphorical form coming from a Higher-self or Spirit guide or Ancestor or Angel or God or god or the Dalai Lama or a talking llama or an inner blue sky. Maybe the inch worm was on a quest but his was probably different. Your inner visions, I would think, would be more interesting than his. But I don’t know — I’ve never spoken to an inch worm. The preparation of the un-foods for thought are interesting.


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