I Believe in Solitude

Julia - Goshen, Indiana
Entered on December 28, 2008
Age Group: 50 - 65

I believe in solitude.

I say this in the face of constant noise and movement. Constant play-acted promises for happy and fulfilled lives. Constant bid to go with the clamorous flow. In these ways I have found only strife.

I understand this through experience. I am defined as a “quiet” one. Someone who is easily overlooked or who is unconsciously dismissed because they do not always speak. I am not quick with spoken words. My words come from deep within and are best when written on a page. I grow my thoughts through observation, quiet observation. Being verbally outward is exhausting, leaves me empty and unrefueled.

I became quiet in my upbringing. Our house was in a woods. I spent my time outside alone and I learned quickly the joys that being quiet brings. Birds stay near. Deer approach. Something as simple as a snapped twig could make them scatter. When quiet I could hear the whisperous flight of wings. The sparkle of a raindrop on a leaf required no sound. The whirl of a samara upon the wind shouted creation in silence.

Sometimes I achieve solitude with people. Rare friends who share my joy and reverence for nature. After pruning an apple tree one spring morning on our day off, I remarked to my coworker and friend, “It sure is peaceful”. “Man, isn’t it,” he said. The air was still, not a motorized sound could be heard. The same friend and I romped woods and pasture to delight in wild orchids, prairie grass and even find a raptor’s skull. All wrapped in a solitude that exclosed daily life.

Another friend and I complemented our solitudes. We birded together. It was not competition birding which spouts knowledge of plumage and siting, rather church birding which extols the marvel of creation. We wanted to be quiet to blend in.

This type of birding could be catching. While watching a far off heron colony from a viewing platform at a wildlife area, the moment was broken by the sound of a mother lecturing about nature as she and her son tromped down the trail. The mother was trying to teach nature to her child but was missing a big lesson – the joy that nature brings in solitude and quiet. When they came upon the viewing platform the mother was receptive enough to catch our signal and became silent. Her son soon followed.

Which brings me to the nourishment of solitude. I often come home from a noisy day of work and can only be refreshed by being alone, outside, connected with creation. The silence of a winter evening when the stars blaze is like a sponge the draws away the poisons of the day and reminds me of something greater, something immune to current fads, dot coms and i-things. Something that has been and will be there for a long time. Something which knows me and speaks a special me-message to me alone. Something that vanishes like a startled deer when anyone else appears. My mind quickly gives fully to it, undistracted, acquiesced, seeking. It is then that solitude becomes a soothing presence that heals my soul.