It’s 1pm on a beautiful Queensland summer’s day. I am yet to speak a word since my eyes closed on yesterday.
Oh, there have been many words today – I’ve already read the memoir of a mother with 3 autistic daughters, and a few chapters of another book. I’ve checked Facebook, read a feel-good article or two, and sent someone the PDF version of my first book at their delighted request. Already today, well over a 100,000 words have been shared… But the echo chamber of my mouth is still and quiet. I’m not sick. I just live by myself, and currently have almost no external obligations, and none that require me to speak today if I choose not to.
I feel like I’ve been granted a glimpse into the senior years of many in the ‘developed’ world. Across the country, I’m sure there are thousands, like me, who have yet to utter a single word today. I’m sure among them there are those who hunger for conversation, those who have spent years, perhaps lifetimes, feeling unheard. I have, in past seasons, been one who has frantically gathered crumbs of friendly exchanges in my mother tongue like a post-war survivor who can never forget the feeling of famine. I have memories of what it is to feel desperate for real connection. To feel alone. To feel bone-achingly alone. To contemplate how long it would take for someone to really notice if I died in my sleep, or went for a walk and never came back. When you have moved solo through this world for more than a brief moment, the world adapts to your singularity, makes space for it. There is more space to disappear. I am certain there is a tide of grey and white in our societies who feel forgotten – reduced to a number, only conspicuous in their absence when deadlines are surpassed – appointments missed, bills not paid.
I sit here in my solitude and I send love to those who did not consciously (in this lifetime at least) choose their only-ness. I send love to those who feel they have been abandoned by all and sundry and left no recourse to remedy it. I, in my small ways, do everything I can to help all of us, all of us, feel more heard, more seen, more lovingly accepted.
You see, I choose the regular presence of Solitude in this season. And the word ‘season’ speaks volumes. It will not always be like this. Even in the ebb and flow of a single week, it is not always like this. But the current buffet table on which unaccompanied hours lay in front of me in all their flavours is, at this very moment, a long one. There is the soft sweet, yet tart zing of just ripe peach in the early, early morning hour as the sun rises. There is the treacle molasses of a sultry summer hour or three spent swinging in the hammock doing nothing more (or less) than avidly examining the leaves and talking to my bovine neighbours. There is the earthy, moist redemption of an almost daily swim in the local lake. There is the sweet cherry pop of moving alone from my local fruit shop, to one of a giddy network of good libraries, to the local supermarket every week. There is salty, satiated car time as I make my way home from a foray into acro or a swim at the beach. There is the moreish air of rural Australia that nourishes like a well balanced meal as I walk, never quickly, to the top of my favourite hill and watch the sunset and commune with the cows. There are many flavours to this current season of Solitude and, almost without exception, they are hearty and delicious.
Occasionally, for exotic garnish, I seek out company. Human company. I am selective and 99% of the time, I enjoy it. Who doesn’t love eating those swirly twirly carrot string garnishes?! What delight a gourmet after-dinner mint! A refreshing lemon sorbet between 5-star courses. For now though, Solitude is where I feel most nourished. Who knows how much longer this season will or can last (financial progress calls)… There are always new seasons, different feasts to feed our souls… For now though, in Solitude I am fed.
In Solitude I am learning to mine priceless jewels of self-responsibility. In Solitude I am more and more aware of ever-present connection. In Solitude, I become my own sacred lover, confidant, advisor, and muse. ‘I’ become aware of my infinite singularity. In this quiet stillness, there is peace enough for me to observe that I am heard, by Life, by Love, proof given in the silent witnessing of everyday miracles of movement and creation.
It took me years to truly see the gift in this, but now I can not unsee it. I do not wish you loneliness or moments of feeling desperately disconnected, but I do wish you seasons of Solitude. What a feast it is.