splendid solitude

“The cure for loneliness is solitude.”

Marianne Moore
“If I Were Sixteen Today”*

I love my solitude. I live in my solitude. My creative ferment is most alive in my solitude. It’s why I rise at 3:00 a.m. on the weekends; I can enter the creative place in my mind and stay there without distractions to pull me out.

I love the quiet. I can hear myself think and dream and free associate. I can also hear my heartbeat, which was disturbing when I first noticed it several years ago but is now merely annoying.** (No, I do not have high blood pressure; I never have. I think my ears are — my right ear actually — just attuned to the flow of blood through nearby vessels.)

I think this is also why I prefer running alone rather than as part of a group, which I had tried for several years.

My solo trips to the cabin, while not good for actual writing, are nearly always great opportunities for ideas and problem solving. I generally come home with lots of notes. (There are distractions at the cabin, not the least of which being the itch to get out and ramble among the hills, though that is not necessarily bad for reflection.)

Of course, getting to whatever place of quiet solitude doesn’t automatically cause me to write pages and pages. Sometimes it still isn’t flowing.

 

 

*I have not read this essay.

**I have this idea that our bodies are actually very noisy places, with blood flowing, and food being digested, and glands secreting, and so on, but our brains have literally tuned these noises out beginning in the womb. Have you ever held a stethoscope to your stomach and listened? Sometimes when I lie in bed and I manage to turn off the censors (unwittingly) for brief moments I can hear all sorts of whooshing and crashing noises in my head, but as soon as I become aware of them, they go away. Tuned out.

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3 Comments on “splendid solitude”


  1. Solitude is a wonderful thing. I work to make sure it’s something often present in my life, even when I go into the office. I’m first in, and I get a good hour or two with very few people around me. And it’s not uncommon for me to also get up at 3:00 or 4:00 on a weekend to enjoy the quiet of it all.

    This time of the year, with dark mornings and people not as active, are wonderful times. My wife wakes up to daylight, so right before we set the clocks back and the sun doesn’t come up until 7:45 in Texas, and how it will get back to that kind of timing through December, I get more time in the mornings before anything else moves.

    If you ever get a chance to see a documentary called IN PURSUIT OF SILENCE, it is worth watching. There is a section in which the crew visits one of the quietest places on Earth, and they discuss how it’s so quiet that one can hear their inner workings. But it’s also about solitude and the effect noise can have on us. Obviously, it skews in favor of silence, but it’s not a take down of more hurried paces and sound; rather, it’s a celebration of peace through quiet moments.

    For me, avoiding a long commute, even if it means making less money than I could working IN Dallas is worth it because my mornings are silent things. Even when I head into the office, I can choose the highway or winding back country roads.

    Until I get right around my office, even my commute is a dark and quiet thing that carries me into the day.


  2. […] not saying to wake up at 3:00 a.m. on the weekend to write like Paul Lamb (although trust me: it doesn’t hurt), but unless you put writing first at least a couple days […]


  3. I tried to talk to as few people as possible yesterday after everyone went home. It was amazing.


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