Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Wonky Week That Was

This was a wonky week. It was a week of letting go, letting go, letting go. Not an easy thing to do sometimes. What was I letting go of?  Oh, a bit of preconceived notions, thoughts and feelings that needed updating, seeing things with less than clear vision. The usual suspects. I felt as though I was out on blue water, in a very small rowboat. Unsettling, to say the least. The French writer, Andre Gide, said, "One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time."  There in my little rowboat, I wondered, how long will I be out here?  How long before I arrive?

I thought about these little islands of beauty I find myself on. They are fine places to be, beautiful places to be, but they are temporary, a place to rest for awhile, but they are not a destination, a place to say, 'I have arrived.'  Yesterday, as evening approached, I went for a walk along the ridge overlooking the lake and realized I had to re-frame the questions. Arrival is not my goal. Destination is not my goal. Moving through life, going with the flow, is all there is.

In the morning, visiting with a friend on the phone, we had jokingly talked about the search for meaning in life. He suggested I reduce the parameters of my search. He added, "Too much looking is going to lead you to the rock pile." The rock pile, I asked?  "Yes," he responded, "The one Virginia Woolf went to before she took a walk in the water, her pockets filled with rocks." I reassured him I was not anywhere near a rock pile and had no intention of finding one. But, for a moment, my mind went to Ms. Woolf and the unendurable place in which she must have found herself. I am not there. I trust I will never be there. I know that meaning must be found in the day to day of life, the small moment, the tiny and fragile bits of life that tell us the world is, indeed, a kind and loving place.

The day before, I bought a book of prose and poetry by May Sarton at the local used book store, a book in which similar questions were posed, questions about the nature of solitude and finding a balance between that and loneliness. Ms. Sarton said, "At any moment solitude may put on the face of loneliness." Not helpful, May.  But, she does say some things that are and which make me feel a kinship with her. Such as, "Solitude itself is a way of waiting for the inaudible and the invisible to make itself felt. And that is why solitude is never static and never hopeless." She goes on to say, "The metaphor that comes to mind is that of a sea anemone that has been wide open to the tide, and then slowly closes up again as the tide ebbs. For alone here, I must first give up the world and all its dear, tantalizing human questions, first close myself away, and then, and only then, open to that other tide, the inner life, the life of solitude, which rises very slowly until, like the anemone, I am open to receive whatever it may bring."  Being open to receive whatever it may bring has been my modus operandi for...awhile now. It's sometimes exciting, sometimes scary, always interesting.

These, however, are the words that solidified, for me, my sisterhood with May:  "There is no doubt that solitude is a challenge and to maintain balance within it a precarious business...We are lonely when there is not perfect communion. In solitude, one can achieve a good relationship with oneself."  Achieving a good relationship with oneself.  Amen, sister.

And that was my challenge this week.

May Sarton passed on in 1995, but I want to say, Thank you, May, for the wise and nurturing companionship your words brought me. The world is, indeed, a kind and loving place. The sunlight, glistening on the leaves of the birch outside my window, tells me this is true.


  1. Solitude can be a good thing...for a little while. As much as we all need to feel connected to something, to belong, time away with oneself if just as valuable. I hope you find that perfect place in which to dwell, whether it be physically or spiritually. You're a special person with a lot to give the world. I'm enjoying reading your experiences along the way.

  2. You remarked that you were looking for a house to buy back in MN. Have you considered an old barn and renovating it? I'm not kidding. You have expressed in your photographs and writing your perchance for old barns. And, even consider land that has been worn-out. Restore it. Besides, you meet a lot a people when you construct or rehabilitate. It could be good wonky time! --Jack

  3. Gail, thank you so much. I'm glad we're sharing our experiences.

    Jack, yes, I have thought of renovating an old barn. I've always thought that would be a fun project. I also have the word out that I'm considering old homesteads that have nice building sites. I'm very ready for good wonky time :)

  4. That's good! Really good! A good wonky time! You know, an old homestead has lots of title history to it. Ah, it's an adventure. Get those sons of yours to help you renovate...sweat of their brows for their dear ole mom (Irish stuff) who has done so much for them. --Jack (I'm Irish, so I can use their sayings without caveats.)

  5. I just noticed you like "Bladerunner." Remember, at the conclusion, they went up into the mountains, not knowing when it would all end? But, then again, who does?

    By the way, do you like wine?

  6. Jack, my younger son had a full Irish grandfather. Good people. Working with my sons on a renovation sounds really nice. Fine memories would be made.

    I love "Bladerunner." I want to re-watch it soon. Yes, life is an indeterminate thing... and that's part of the fun!

    I do like wine. I love the idea of understanding it more. Different wines for different meals, but then, just going with the flow is good, too. ahem. :)

  7. I love Bladerunner too. It creates a mood that no other film has every stirred in me.

    The photo of May Sarton says so much about her--the window full of plants, the stacks of books, the bay window full of sunlight. I would have been very comfortable in her presence.

  8. Ms. Sparrow, we felt and saw the same things... how nice.

  9. Teresa, I just commented on your Let It Be entry, and this particular post is so relevant to me right now I have to send you a private message about it via Facebook. xoxo Kristy

  10. I guess it was meant to be that this past week was so hectic and I could really focus on your posts. And after reading this post I had to take a walk outside and think a bit. There's so much I'd like to say, have a glass of wine or two with you. But, I guess it comes down to this: I was where you are some years ago. Your blog made total sense. There was a time when I would have cried buckets that you understood what I was going through. The closest I can come to saying when I left that searching and settled into myself was the day a British lady told me (after I'd shared some self-searching tales) was that, "Acceptance is the key." My German friend, Marlena, was a bit older and had tried to tell me that earlier but I had resisted. For some reason, tho, the British lady hit home. And that was the day I pulled out of Searching and into Being. Life opened up. The sun shone brighter. Of course each day wasn't perfect but that was okay. Teresa, your angels told you what the British lady told me . . . Let It Be. Tis the same.

  11. Thank you, Soul Sister. Again, I sent you a personal message. It's another beautiful day...