I am watching the TV series called "Arrow," based on the Green Arrow character, about whom I know very little, except that he is an archer and a modernized version of Robin Hood. In this version he is the son of a billionaire and a ne'er-do-well in the classic sense of the word. He is shipwrecked on an island after his father's yacht sinks and his father dies. He spends five years on this island, not alone it seems, but cut off from his previous life. I expect we will gradually find more and more about the transformation process (a clever idea so that it is not all used up in a big origin episode), but the important thing is that at the end of this period of isolation, he is transformed into a superhero who fights against corrupt corporate powerbrokers.
It made me realize, in so many stories, the importance of a time away from the familiar and the comfortable to allow for a transformation. Even on a small scale, significant personal change is through periods of time apart. To master anything, we need time alone: time to study, to practice, to learn to know of or to do something—speak a language, run a half-marathon, play an instrument, shoot an arrow, write, quilt. Transformations require us to detach so that we can change ourselves. When we return we bring with us what we have extracted from the time alone, the time away, and those we love can share in it. If we never withdrew, we could not bring that gift. It takes an odd blend of selfishness and humility to do such a thing, unless, of course, it is thrust upon you by a shipwreck.