Finding Unfamiliar Peace in Solitude and Simplicity

Solitude is a magnificent, but sometimes terribly frightening matter.

English poet Lord Byron once said, “In solitude, where we are least alone.” I get this, even more so now, than ever.

Before I begin, I must explain: I decided to stay an extra few days at my family’s cottage. When my mother realized that after my family left, the house was about to be vacant for a week, she said, “Why not?!” My grandmother said, “Why not?” So, I said, “Hey, why not?” too. One of the most fabulous aspects of being a freelance writer is that I can do it from pretty much anywhere in the world — Wellesley Island being one such place.

After spending a few days completely to myself, — except for the company of my kittens — I have learned so much about the power of independence. And I am not talking about the “independent woman” kind of independence — I already had that one down. But what I am speaking of is the kind of independence that leaves you so much with your thoughts and the simplicity — or complexity, depending on how you look at it — of this world that, initially, it is quite scary. But if you harbor it and nurture it correctly, it can totally rock your world.

On Sunday, I walked 12 miles, round-trip, so that I could spend the day in Thousand Islands Park. My family took the cars per my request, and as of Monday I have had a rented bike on hand for as-needed transportation. But Sunday was so beautiful that I really could not resist finding a way to get to one of the places I consider most beautiful in the world. Don’t get me wrong: The entire Thousand Islands region is magnificent, but T.I. Park represents to me all of the simple things in life. So, I strapped on my running shoes, packed a lunch and threw a book bag over my shoulder; it carried all of my essentials — my notebook, food, sunscreen and Anne Lammot’s Bird By Bird.

Let me tell you — walking six miles is tough, regardless of what kind of shape you are in! At least, that is what I would like to believe, considering how sore my bum was, especially, after I doubled that distance later in the day. (:

But the journey there was fabulous. I got to see up-close-and-personal an osprey nest that my dad had pointed out to me earlier in the week. I am not sure if you can tell just how gigantic this thing is, but it is amazing. To think that a bird was able to construct this home on top of a telephone pole is just one of the many cool things I appreciate about nature. The momma bird was not too happy to see me, — she kept circling the area in which I was standing — so I took a quick picture and moved on!

At about the fifth mile, I came across a box full of a bunch of interesting tin boxes labeled, “FREE.” I found some colorful tea cans, an old metal baking bundt pan and a tin soap box. You can see a few of them here, but there are more. I, of course, had to take all of the tea tins because I hated to leave any behind. Probably not the best choice, considering that I still had one mile to go and six reserved for later in the day, but I just could not resist.

The day started out kind of cloudy as you can see in the picture of the nest, but as I entered T.I. Park the sunshine grew brighter and brighter. I found a spot under a tree where I sat and wrote for several hours.

One of the things, as I have already mentioned, that I appreciate so much about T.I. Park is the simplistic way of life that happens around you. Many of the people who live in the community ride around on golf carts, stopping in the middle of an intersection to say hello and chat for a bit. There are no horns honking for them to move along, no road rage or nasty finger exchanges.

Adults walk side by side, eating ice cream smack in the middle of the day, and young girls ride bikes in their swimsuits, fresh from a quick swim in the river, towels strewn over their shoulders.

It sounds all too perfect, I know. And maybe it is. But on that day, that was exactly what it was — perfect.

And that is where I begin with the subject of solitude. I have found that being alone has allowed me to recognize so many things that I may not have noticed had I been with say, Dan or my family. That is not to say that company is a bad thing. But in this situation, solidarity has taught me new things about myself and, to be more specific, the world in which I live.

Like …

*The sounds people make when they are with small children. So many of them squeal with laughter in a different manner than if they were accompanied by an adult.

*I am still a bit afraid of monsters under the bed! But seriously, the darkness is a powerful thing, and, when you are alone to assess it, the quiet noise of it all can make anyone a bit anxious.

*The way the sun so easily pokes you awake in the morning. When you focus enough on the environment around you, sometimes, you will find that an alarm clock, like so many modern technologies, is not necessary.

*I really don’t need as much crap as I thought I did. I have three pairs of shoes, — flip flops, sneakers and flats — a dresser drawer of clothing and undergarments, a few bathroom products, and a table full of my most favorite books. It has been this way for three weeks and, in addition to food and water, I am still living. Surprise!

*Everything seems a bit lighter when accompanied by a fresh breeze.

It’s amazing how simple things seem when I am surrounded by such great beauty and peace — work, making dinner, cleaning up after my messy kitties.

And, of course, I understand that this is the ideal situation, a huge opportunity indeed. But I only hope I can take so much of it home with me. . .

The loudness of my thoughts and the peace to see the beauty in each one.



Filed under Eat, July 2008, Pray, Run

3 responses to “Finding Unfamiliar Peace in Solitude and Simplicity

  1. I loved reading this article and I can definitely appreciate the spirit of downsizing.

    Somewhere along the line I became overly materialistic and I feel blessed that I have come to that realization in time to prioritize what is truly important.


  2. Susan — I am so glad you enjoyed the article. This experience has been such a blessing to me. Of course, I am not claiming to have done a 180, but I have learned so much about the benefits of simplicity. Thanks for reading!

  3. Amanda

    Wonderful post! It is such a simple, beautiful place. I feel as though it is such a blessing to be alone with your own thoughts…you surely get to know what YOU are all about…a truth that, as we spoke about last night, many people in this world have yet to address. I am SO SO SO proud of you. I think you are brilliant! I am so excited to see you on Friday!
    P.S. You sure have a lot of cans…maybe I could take some off of your hands…?!? 😉
    I love you.


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