Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Gift of Solitude

Surf School
I awakened on the 4th with the wolf of solitude scratching at my door.  I know his sounds by now and by mid-afternoon, with friends and family miles away and the celebrations popping in the near and far distance, he was beginning to howl. 

Solitude is something I've chosen … moving to a new place where I know no one and choosing work that feeds on solitude.  However, I want solitude to be a wrap I put on and take off at my own whims … not a fierce and hungry wolf who sometimes glides silently through the moonlit woods, free to explore the world around him, and sometimes howls and twists to get free of what feels like the trap that binds him.

But, solitude is what it is and I'm beginning to know him and his ways well.  I know what soothes him and what follows a siege of trying to break free from that fearful, dark night. Dawn always comes, bringing with it new light, new grace.  I've learned a small portion of patience, so I wait … wait for the storm to pass, wait for the return of the tingle of anticipation.

This morning it rushed back in with the tide as I walked near the edge of the water.  Gentle waves whispered, "Something … something new … something new is coming … something new is forming …"  I know this to be true … something new is always coming … always coming to each of us.  As our ancient friend Heraclitus reminded us, we never step twice into the same river.  A year from now life will be new and different … maybe better, maybe worse, maybe just different. 

Right now the future coming toward me is the tiniest sprout, green and unidentifiable.  Will it be a sheltering oak or a red peony … or merely a weed to be plucked?  I do not know and it doesn't matter what I want it to be, because it will be what it is and my wishing it to be one or the other matters not.  All I'm called to do is nourish it … feeding it, watering it … tending it by savoring each moment of Now.  For regardless of what shape the coming takes, it will grow strong or falter based on the actions, feelings and beliefs of each tiny present moment.

So, walking in the soft, marine-layered morning, I drink in the gliding pelicans in their irregular formations, the generations of walkers, joggers and surfers, the bouncing white volley balls, the squealing inlanders touching the surprisingly chill waters of "sunny California" under a still sunless sky, the dogs sniffing the trace of their compatriots along paths of seaweed while a waggle-tailed puppy calls "Please come play with me!" to every passerby, the photographers with long lenses peering into rock crannies for scampering crabs, and beach combers sharing their gatherings.  

All of this ... the gift of solitude … a reminder that whatever is coming, the only thing I truly have is this precious and perfect moment.  Remembering that humbles me and makes me grateful.


  1. Oh Joyce. This is so beautiful. Thank you for writing it, sharing it, being it and for creating a space for me to step into the gift you open up in your solitude.


  2. Dear we know, being present is the right place to be...not living in the past or projecting too far into the future. We can hedge our bets in many ways, but it seems the Universe will still find a way to serve up the lessons we must learn. I know something of that wolf too...and choices. Seems so many artist choose a solitary path.
    big hugs..xo