Solitude in Season

A Relaxing Friday Afternoon

A Relaxing Friday Afternoon

No man ever will unfold the capacities of his own intellect who does not at least checker his life with solitude.

De Quincey

I still recall televised discussions of the Sarah Palin phenomenon following the failed presidential bid of Senator John McCain. Popular talk wanted her to run for President in four years, but conventional wisdom knew she was far short on political and world affairs savvy.  One of the pundits said that if she were to make a serious run in four years, she would need to retreat to the wilderness for an extended time (e.g., most of those four years) and study seriously the issues she had not yet mastered. After a thoughtful silence, he admitted that she would never do that–she needed the media attention too much.

This has also been said of Ralph Waldo Emerson.  His Harvard years were solitary ones, because he was too poor to be social, and too intellectually clumsy to master his studies quickly.  After 1836 he lit up the literary world like a meteor across the night sky and was suddenly in demand as a public speaker everywhere.  Some have opined that he levelled off during the 1840’s, because he kept such a busy speaking schedule that he no longer had time for solitude, reflection, writing and cultivation of new ideas.  After all my years in the educational arena, I say with some embarrassment that I have not checked the veracity of this opinion, but the scenario is certainly a life lesson for anyone to follow.

The nature of my work has propelled me into the public from time to time, but my preference for the quiet sanctuary has also been fed consistently throughout the decades.  I love the rhythm between the solitary and public circles, and am most grateful this afternoon as I write this to accept the gift of an “unscheduled” weekend–my first in a long time.  Temperatures are cooling across north Texas, nights and mornings are cold, and I’m loving the books-and-coffee weather feel to all of this.  Right now I’m cozied up in my bedroom with freshly-brewed coffee, a stack of books, and my ever-present journal. Hopefully I’ll get into the “studio mood” later and see what I can do with art.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

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