contemplating solitude

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“Whosoever is delighted in solitude, is either a wild beast or a god.”  (Aristotle)

well.  i must be a wild beast then because i am not a god and i like to roam the inner landscapes of my wildness as leaves drip down from the towering trees kissing the sky.

“As soon as we are alone,...inner chaos opens up in us. This chaos can be so disturbing and so confusing that we can hardly wait to get busy again. Entering a private room and shutting the door, therefore, does not mean that we immediately shut ou all our iner doubts, anxieities, fears, bad memories, unresolved conflicts, angry feelings and impulsive desires. On the contrary, when we have removed our outer distraction, we often find that our inner distraction manifest themselves to us in full force. We often use the outer distractions to shield ourselves from the interior noises. This makes the discipline of solitude all the more important.” (Henri Jozef Machiel Nouwen)

for years, i have filled my life with distractions that found their form in traversing the wide expanse of the internet, shopping for pretty shiny baubles, traveling to here and there and everywhere, starting businesses, pursuing dreams and passions, teaching, writing, wandering, new, different, jump from planes and land in corn fields and take a billion photos while dripping poetry from my fingertips.  i had a friend recently tell me that she was awed by my output, the force with which i produced, the intensity with which i pushed forward.  all of these things, these distractions are good distractions, full and beautiful and have in fact brought me to this place of solitude. 

truthfully, for months and months, i have not been doing much of anything but walking through the trees, watching the light float about, digging weeds, swishing paint on wood dried splinters and concrete and mundane tasks that feel strangely filling.  i have been engaged in solitude.  and yes, at first it felt like an inner landscape of chaos which left me confused and chaotic and many tears were shed and anger flared up in me but i didn't resist it.  i cried.  i raged.  i stayed in this space and i refused to fill it with all the distractions that called to me, tugging at me with their wiles.  in fact, i started saying no.  i started putting up walls and limits.  i stopped spending money and realized that if i continued on, i could rid myself of the debt that came as a result of succumbing to the distraction, the search for my healing, my reason for being.

i can't tell you how many online courses i took over the past few years, courses that were fantastic and lovely but courses that i personally didn't need because i had already worked through that knowledge alone, many times.  consequently, i took a lot of courses that i never actually finished.  and i traveled and it was amazing and i met so many amazing light filled people.  but the price tag was dragging me down in my own day to day life.  i supported friends by buying their beautiful wares and every new trend that came along, every new camera and every new pretty shiny thought was clinked through my credit card.  i was drowning in it.  but.  i stopped spending money and realized that i could actually dig myself out of the pit if i just stopped spending.  the more i spent, the less i felt like myself, the less i knew, the more confused i became.  and i was listening to too many voices and had lost my own voice.

and so. in the solitude.  i started hearing her again.  the voice that i knew so well but had forgotten, buried deep in the dark recesses of myself.  i had stopped trusting her and consequently stopped trusting the magic in the world, the messages meant for me. 

in the solitude, i found abundance and gratitude and magic. 

in the solitude, i found strength and courage and blessings.

in the solitude, i found beauty and expansiveness.

in the solitude, i found life.  nature.  the wild quiet of myself.

"Being solitary is being alone well: being alone luxuriously immersed in doings of your own choice, aware of the fullness of your own presence rather than of the absence of others. Because solitude is an achievement." (Alice Koller)
 
so many changes over the past couple of months.  my son turned 18 and graduated highschool and his level of personal responsibilty leaves me often in awe.  in 9 days yesterday, he and his friend who has lived with us for months, move out moved into their own shiny new apartment.  he is heading down his life path, making decisions, figuring things out with work and school and choices and living and he is everything i always wanted him to be: big hearted and ethical, responsible and independent and his soul shines through his smile.  it is and continues to be a successful launch.  and in a blink, a life raised from birth to adulthood has passed before my eyes, memories full and future plans solid.  he will always be in my life but it is different.  i am a solitary creature again surrounded by love and family but solitary nonetheless. 
 
i thought that when this time came i would be sad, lost and that i would crave the filling of all the time that stretches out before me.  but instead i feel a peace and a settledness (edited to add:  even though i shed a lot of tears because these kinds of changes shake your core even though you think you are ready).  even as i have no idea what comes next.  i was going to apply to do my masters of fine art in creative writing.  but at the last minute, with the application filled out and a portfolio ready to send, i decided to put it on hold.  my inner voice whispered no, not right now.  it was a strong whisper that felt solid.  and so i didn't apply.  my husband and i both work day jobs but he is also an active musician who plays with many different bands and so he is often out of the house in the evenings which means i am often alone and with the boys moving out, i will be more and more alone.  and i truly believe that i am doing exactly what i should be doing in this moment in time. 
 
We must become so alone, so utterly alone, that we withdraw into our innermost self. It is a way of bitter suffering. But then our solitude is overcome, we are no longer alone, for we find that our innermost self is the spirit, that it is God, the indivisible. And suddenly we find ourselves in the midst of the world, yet undisturbed by its multiplicity, for our innermost soul we know ourselves to be one with all being.” (Hermann Hesse)
 
i want to continue walking the slow path of myself.  the expanse of time and space feels good to me right now and i don't want to distract myself from getting to know the deeper reaches of my self, the deeper connection that i feel to the wild natural world that strengthens the deeper i go into myself.  and i find that my anger flares up less and less, my tolerance for the world and society grows wider and the sadness feels like a beautiful breeze that allows me to remember it all.
 
“Cherish your solitude. Take trains by yourself to places you have never been. Sleep out alone under the stars. Learn how to drive a stick shift. Go so far away that you stop being afraid of not coming back. Say no when you don’t want to do something. Say yes if your instincts are strong, even if everyone around you disagrees. Decide whether you want to be liked or admired. Decide if fitting in is more important than finding out what you’re doing here. Believe in kissing.” (Eve Ensler)
 
And that is what I am doing.