Friday, August 24, 2012


It's August 24th, and I feel like my month of solitude is ending too soon.  I had this romantic idea, I suppose, of wandering quietly through the lovely labyrinth of solitude.  I created a fantasy of solitude that was ethereal and elegant.  I think that in my silly little head I was wearing a 19th century gown and going on a little walk through the trees to sit on a patch of grass and read poetry or gaze meaningfully into a reflective pond at my feet. 

Reality is a bit more jarring and much less romantic.

It is 6:10 in the morning as I sit here at my dining room table.  I am gulping my coffee out of a brown mug.  My hair is a mess.  I am wearing an old pink t-shirt and Nike running shorts from high school.  I pretend I am alone, but my little white dog is sitting at my feet whining, with a shameful cone around her head and a leg both broken and sporting a gaping, raw wound.  There is no patch of grass upon which to sit, no poetry book beside me, no reflective pond at my feet, and certainly no lovely gown.  I am alone, yes, but I feel ugly and bleary-eyed-tired and slightly disillusioned. 

Yet, I soldier on through my shattered fantasy castle-in-the-sky.  I have managed to squeeze in solitude most days, but I have had to settle with the idea that I can sequester myself away just thirty minutes in the morning before everyone wakes up.  I long for the whole hour, but that would mean a either giving up exercise or a 4:45 alarm, and I am not sure that even solitude is worth that early of a morning.  The thirty minutes that I settle my soul into, while not perfect, is healing.

I feel like I am finally coming to a place in my life where I am allowing myself to nurture myself for myself as I am, not as I think I should be.  This month I read the books Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain and Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place  in an Extroverted Culture by Adam McHugh.  I resonated with these books in a very deep and stirring way.  I worried that reading these books would pigeonhole me with a label--introvert--and then the weight that the word carries.  Instead, I feel like a little bird who has been set free to be myself.  I love people--I do.  While sometimes I fling out an extroverted persona that exhausts me, I do love the intimacy that is woven in the threads of connecting and listening and sharing.  However, I cannot connect and listen and share unless I have recharged alone.  It doesn't really make sense to me.  Many times it is incredibly frustrating to me.  But that's who I am.  Therefore, it is absolutely imperative that I carve that time to myself.  Alone.  And I struggle against it.  I fight it.  I actually find that I thrust myself, on crazy purpose, into situations that tap out every ounce of energy.  But I have been doing this less, lately, and so the seamstress of my soul has had a little more time to perch on her stool and sew me up a bit.  I find myself more present, less impatient, calmer.  I note and enjoy the world around me while I walk Jack to school.  I hold Amélie's hand and walk slower, without purpose, while the two of us walk back home.  I bury my nose into Jack's sweet head and just breathe when he sleepily curves himself into my lap.  I taste the coffee I am sipping.  I hear the baby cardinals chirping outside of Jack's window.  I soak in the pink-stained morning sky and smell the faint promise of rain. 

The truth is--I'm a mess.  But I am trying to create around me and within me and through me a beautiful mess, and I can only do that if I sit before the easel of my soul, dip my brush into the soft colors of solitude, and paint. 

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