To know in a way mortality could never award how rhythmic and intertwined the dance of night and day was. To know the Darwinistic injustice of a jay-raided nest and hear the first hymn of autumn as it roared across the valley and cry in happy sadness with the stars at night. If some period of servitude was required from all who die, and if the grand design required one to ache from the sting of life’s missteps, then let it happen here. For every meadow was its own village, every weed and sprig its own prefecture.
–The Portraits of Gods (excerpt)
Emerging from a week spent alone in the solitude of our cabin is like stepping out from a dark theater into the bright day. Traffic lights blare like neon. Storefront windows reflect the sun like a thousand mirrors. The people on the street glance at you in passing as if sensing your struggle to readjust. When I stop for fuel, I make idle chatter with the guy at the pump next to mine and my voice sounds tinny from its underuse.
In solitude, you see life through a different filter. It’s the catalyst for creativity. Everything is stripped down. Empirical. Shedding the fear of being judged, the taint of seeking acceptance, you get to be yourself; so much so that you feel almost fraudulent when you consider the person you are when you’re with others.
There’s a transformation that takes over when I’m alone. The funny, self-deprecating guy you might encounter in social gatherings is gone, replaced by a man whom I suspect—and hope—is my essential self. Genuine. Calm. Perceptive to every nuance of my existence. Accepting in knowing that everything I see will outlast me.
Campfires by night. Hiking by day. Sitting out in a golden meadow where dragonflies dip and rise over the reeds in a summer dance. Clothing-optional dips in our lake. The truth is, I’m a better man—and writer—because of it. For as long as you don’t equate periods of being alone with sadness, the inner peace you feel from a bit of solitude makes you realize that in life, there is nothing more to wish for.