AM Inspiration: Because Of You, My Solitude
In counterpoint to yesterday's post about community comes today's meditation on solitude."One of the greatest necessities in America is to discover creative solitude," wrote the poet Carl Sandburg. He should have specified North Americans, as one of the books that epitomizes Latin American culture is titled "One Hundred Years of Solitude"--by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Solitude is something that doesn't really have a venerated place in modern (North) American culture. Sure, we have the frontier tradition and the value placed upon heading out into unknown open space, but we are often conditioned to think that being alone is somehow a withdrawal, a depressive retreat or failure. Solitude has also become murky: does online interaction count as alone time or not? Further, since our lives are so interconnected with every other species on the planet, is solitude a meaningless concept? How do you practice creative solitude?
Writer and critic Marya Mannes made the case for quality solo time even more strongly: "The great omission in American life is solitude. . .that zone of time and space, free from the outside pressures, which is the incinerator of the spirit." If the urge to consume is often spoken in terms of "filling a void," then learning to appreciate our solitude--whether we're literally alone or simply out and about doing things on our own--may be a key to reducing our resource use.
While searching for a good poem about solitude I discovered Luis Cernuda, a contemporary of Federico Garcia Lorca. Apparently solitude was a theme in his work; one poem in particular was so beautiful I had to reproduce it in part. It's well worth the read--hopefully you'll have a few moments of creative solitude over the weekend.
How to fill you, solitude,
except with you yourself...
As a child, among the shabby garlands of the earth,
stilled in a dark corner,
I looked in you, flaming garland,
for my future dawns and furtive nights,
and in you I glimpsed them,
natural and exact, free and faithful,
like you, eternal solitude...
Because of you I find myself now....
the sun, my god, the whispering night,
the rain, the intimacy of always,
the forest and its pagan cheer,
the sea, the sea like its beautiful name,
and above all,
dark and slender being,
I find you, you, my solitude,
and you give me strength and weakness,
like the tired bird posing on a statue's arms...
You, solitary truth,
transparent passion, my solitude from always,
you are an immense embrace,
the sun, the sea,
the darkness, the steppe,
man and desire,
the tumultuous crowd,
what are these if not you?
Because of you, my solitude, I looked for them one day;
in you, my solitude, I love them now.