Saturday, 5 January 2019

In Search of Solitude

One morning, in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, I snuck upstairs to my studio to be alone. I love my family, and I love people, but I love my solitude, too. Sometimes we need time alone to get re-energized. I turned on the computer, and began writing:

“I’m in my studio, alone, taking a break from people, but....(those dots indicate an interruption)...the resident sweetie has come up the stairs and plopped himself on the sewing chair. “Whatcha doing? Writing a blog? What’s it about?” I tell him that I’m writing a blog about being interrupted, about how I need to get away from people occasionally. He grins, “Oh, it’s about me again, eh? Aren’t you glad I give you something to write about?” How did two people who are so different ever got together in the first place? What’s with that?”

Al says he needs solitude too. But his idea of solitude is different from mine. For him, solitude means being relaxed with no expectations placed on him; it could be in his den, with the classical music pouring out of the speakers, or it could be taking a drive around the peninsula, finding a bench that overlooks the water, and sitting there for a while. Solitude might include me being with him, enjoying his version of solitude.

Not that I don’t enjoy that, but my version of solitude includes stillness which promotes a kind of listening to the divine (or God, or the Universe or whatever you choose to call it.) When I am in the listening mode, my mind and heart are open.  It may or may not involve writing, reading, and artistic pursuits as well as walking and taking long warm baths. The operative word is alone, so I can “hear”, so the channels are not blocked.
V Chanev Photography

Do I ever “hear” anything, you may ask. For sure, but often not something I can put into words. I just read this quote which sums it up pretty well: “I don't ask for the full ringing of the bell. I don't ask for a clap of thunder that would rend the veil in the temple. A scrawny cry will do, from far off there among the willows and the cattails, from far off there among the galaxies. - Chet Raymo.” And I would add, “a whisper from my work table will do, a sense of something true that calls through the darkness urging me on, that too will do.”  Sounds a bit whoo-whoo, but that’s who I am.

Does this scenario sound like a horror movie to you? Not in your worst dreams would you want to get away from people so you can maybe hear a faint signal from the great beyond? You’ve been to retreats, sure, but they involved lots of people learning about things together, with some free time for relaxing.  Fascinating, isn’t it, how we are all different, with different needs? I’ve had someone tell me that retreating from other people, carving out space for yourself, is selfish, but I no longer apologize for who I am, and neither should you. Vive la difference, I say.

It was silly of me to think that I might be able to have some solitude in my studio when people were coming and going, laughing, playing games together. So I made an announcement to my significant others: January 2, 3, and 4 would be my Retreat Days. They have been good about it. They know wife/mom/friend is no earthly good without her periodic times of hiding out. I did come out of my hidey hole for a few hours every day, at mid-day, and for the evening as well, sharing time with the RS. It’s been a good experience.

My three-day self-directed retreat consisted of Day 1: Review (look back); Day 2: Take Stock (look around) and Day 3: Project (look ahead.) Coincidentally, I’d also signed up for a 30-day drawing challenge posed by our local arts council, which started on Day 1. Each day I get a topic in my mailbox which I am supposed to use as a drawing prompt. I decided my drawing would be done with my sewing machine – thread-sketching, it’s called. So I have been incorporating these thread sketches into my reflections. They aren’t great works of art, but they are “creations” and I have had to listen to my head and heart as I worked on them.

The first assignment was to picture the Earth in 2121. I'm not even sure the earth as we know it will be here in 2121, especially not with the way we are treating it. So instead, I created a spiral galaxy with a small dot in the center. The earth, I think, will be whirling through space in some way shape or form.

My second assignment asked me to imagine what was under the bed. (Besides dust bunnies?) I changed it up a bit: if there was a box under the bed full of treasure to explore this year, what might it contain? I began by thread sketching an empty box on a piece of fabric I'd rust printed this summer. All those circles looked like dream bubbles.

I filled the dream bubbles with the things I treasure in life, and put some scraps of fabric, thread and ribbon into the box. It's not finished yet -- I wonder what other treasures I will find to add to my collection this year.

The third assignment was to draw the lyrics to my personal anthem. If I could teach the world to sing, what song would I teach? And this is it, folks... a song fitting for you and for me: "The earth is holy, and everything in it...that means you, too." Don't forget how precious you are.

I am so grateful for this time that I got to myself, so thankful for the support of people I love, so excited and inspired by the gifts and treasures I am uncovering, so curious about where it all will lead.

 In the meantime, another quote I came across during my days of solitude might give you food for thought and inspiration for the continuing journey as we move into 2019:

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