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.