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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Sweet Solitude

Photo by Kevin Tomasello
Sometimes--really, all the time--it's hard to balance creativity with the demands of daily life.

I am someone who needs a lot of alone time. In fact, I seem to need way more than most people. I mean, I like people, but I get grumpy if I am forced to be with others without breaks of solitude.

As a human being, it is necessary and good to connect with other human beings. I spend at least 95% of my day trying to connect with other people face to face as part of my day job. I chose this and I love it, but it drains me. When I come home, my spouse wants to connect with me. I get that. I like him. He's a pretty cool guy most of the time, except when I am on empty. Then no one is cool. He would argue that I appear to be on empty most of the time, I'm sure. I really don't try to be. My husband took the photo above, by the way. We both take so many pictures that I forget who did what, but that's his canoe. We each have our own boat. This is important for marital harmony.

I have a framed black and white photograph in my writing room of a person in a single rowing scull in the moonlight by Bruce Stromberg that I've had since high school. At the bottom is a quote from a guy named Omar Khayyam : "The thoughtful soul to solitude retires." It still speaks to me after all these years.

When my son was little, solitude was impossible. Little kids follow you into the bathroom for heaven's sake. But, then his father and I divorced and I moved far away and I missed my son more than my own breath under water. He's a young man now, planning his own wedding, and I savor any time I can get with him. I don't seem to need so much solitude when he's around.

But, I still need air. Like water. I'm not a good person when I can't take time by myself in nature. Yes, the nature part is important. It's the only way I can recharge. Not that there's so much amazing activity going on in my brain that I have to commune with it. Usually, my mind is full of junk. Icky, sticky, tarry pollution that I need to purge before it suffocates me. I find it easiest to purge when I am by myself, outside...or inside on the page with the windows open, or at least with a window that looks out at nature. I use my solitude to face the world again because I do want to connect with other human beings. Here's another good quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes:

What lies behind us 
and what lies before us 
are tiny matters 
compared to what lies within us.

I can't find out what's within without that solitary window. And then, hopefully, whatever I can siphon from that weird wreckage of my mind is worth sharing with the world.

May you also find peace and solitude when you need it.