Thursday, October 24, 2013

I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude. We are for the most part more lonely when we go abroad among men than when we stay in our chambers. ~ Henry David Thoreau

I look at this photograph I took of a sunrise on Lake Superior last October and it reflects what solitude is like to me...peaceful...serene.  Nothing on the horizon but the sun coming up over the lip of the lake.  I remember that morning.  It was cold and the trees were ablaze with color around me.  A bit of a breeze barely rippled the water.  Dear Hubby was somewhere around me but at this particular moment I was gazing out and feeling how away-from-it-all we were, on this bit of empty lake shore without another soul around.  The Upper Peninsula is still a place where the hurrying and scurrying of city life is as foreign to it as sunshine and 80 degrees in the middle of January.  It's non-existent.  When you stand on the lake shore at sunrise you can't help but be still and contemplate God's beautiful creation.  I was awestruck.  The entire trip I was awestruck.  Every corner we turned, every path we trod, we'd go from one stunning view to another.  There was no end to it, and when you'd think you couldn't possibly see anything more beautiful...something more beautiful would appear.  Dear Hubby had been ill and hospitalized for a few days before we left to go on this trip and even tho our kids voiced their reservations about us traveling 450 miles away to the furthest point before turning south and heading home, we felt we had to take this trip.  Even tho he denies it, we think a lot of his health issues were stress-related and that trip ended up being the best medicine in the world for him, getting away from the cell phone, texts, noise, traffic...whatever.  He needed peace and what he found in the Upper Peninsula was an abundance of it.  The first nite we stayed in a little burg called Paradise.  And that was just what it was, in an old resort-style motel on the shores of Lake Superior.  When the sun went down it was dark. And it was silent.  And we slept like the dead.

I happen to love solitude.  In this life that I have here in Michigan, I spend a lot of time alone.  I interact with neighbors and carry on conversations with people I meet by chance during the day when I'm out and about but for the most part I'm alone from the time Dear Hubby leaves for work early in the morning until he comes home towards late afternoon.  I don't know why people are afraid of being alone.  Do they think of  'aloneness' as loneliness?  I am never lonely, never homesick.  I enjoy my own company and have always found crowds hard to take.  It's like being on sensory overload when I'm in a big group of people.  I come away mentally exhausted and I need time alone to refresh myself and gather my wits about me again.  I think those who don't know me too well but are "Friends" on Facebook probably think I'm very social because I post a lot and I have a lot to say there.  But I'm not. That's the "surface" me, the one I let the world see in face-to-face encounters.  But the real me...no sir.  That part of me isn't revealed to much of anyone, not really.  That part is for me alone. Sometimes I almost feel like I live a double life.  But both parts are real.  The one who can carry on a conversation with anyone can shine forth when need be.  But I am much more comfortable with the one who can sit in the quiet  and watch the birds at the feeder, the wind in the huge maples across the street.  The one who likes to be alone and is never lonely.

I think we Americans in our rush-rush-always-have-to-be-connected society have lost the ability of knowing how to be alone, of knowing how nourishing that time is to our souls and our emotional and mental well-being. Why does every minute, every hour, of not only our lives but our children's lives have to be scheduled and structured and planned and organized?  Don't any of us remember what it was like to be carefree children with nothing but hours ahead of us on a summer day to just...be?  To play or not to play?  To lie in the grass and gaze at the clouds and just empty our minds and dream?  To ride a bike down a country road with the wind in our hair and no destination in mind?  I find a lot of freedom in solitude.  It's a great place to daydream. It's a place we all ought to visit on a regular basis.

3 comments:

Margaret said...

I'm pretty solitary too, but it's been a whole different dynamic since my husband died. I loved my alone time, as long as I knew he was coming home from work; now that he's not, it's more difficult to enjoy that constant quiet. I read a lot and am doing OK, but it's still very difficult.

Rosemary Nickerson said...

There is solitude and alone....two separate things. Margaret has vocalized it. Being by yourself during the day, or the week, or the month, knowing your partner will return is one thing. Being solo 24/7 is something else. Yes, I like the peace and quiet of a time alone. I also am very connected socially and would never be one for a hermitage.

Kevin Mendoza said...

I had this quote for my English homework. I couldn't quite understand the significance of being alone. Thanks for sharing your perspective. I'll never look at being alone the same again. Beautiful blog by the way!