I am always astounded by the strength of life force in nature if unhindered by human activity, the pollution of drugs and chemicals. A few weeks ago I cut a couple of branches from my Woolly Willow tree (yes, it’s really called that or Salix Lanata if you want to be formal). They were covered in gorgeous catkins and made a stunning statement in a vase in my hallway. When I decided to throw them out I was surprised to see they had grown roots so now they are destined for a new life in the garden next to their mother tree. Happy trees! I have many different willow trees; scarlet, golden, black, purple, Swiss, a ground cover variety, one that has spectacular black catkins in the spring. It is a wild, windy and wet location and yet they thrive. Branches may break off in a storm but they go on undaunted. If only we humans could do the same.
The end of the year can be a difficult time for those of us who are alone, either through circumstance or choice. In the northern hemisphere temperatures drop, the nights grow longer and Christian communities begin their Christmas celebrations. More than any other time of year there is an emphasis on family values and sharing which can leave single people feeling alienated. There is a stigma attached to being alone at Christmas. Turkey for one? So in this post I wish to share some inspiring quotes reminding us that solitude can be a positive and healthy choice. Being alone does not necessarily mean feeling lonely and company is often overrated. The beaming, perfect families of television commercials rarely exist in reality. If you find yourself alone this Festive Period use the time wisely to recharge and regenerate your energy levels, treat yourself kindly and cherish your freedom. I’m planning to lock myself indoors with a fridge full of party food, a bottle of the local whisky liquor and a pile of wonderful books.
Ten quotes to celebrate the gift of solitude:-
1. “… the highest and most decisive experience of all, … is to be alone with his own self, or whatever else one chooses to call the objectivity of the psyche. The patient must be alone if he is to find out what it is that supports him when he can no longer support himself. Only this experience can give him an indestructible foundation.”
Carl Jung (1943)
2. “In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion.”
Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays
3. “The only antidote to fear is to go through it. Only by embracing loneliness may its tyranny be broken.”
James Hollis (1996)
4. “I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.”
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
5. “My imagination functions much better when I don’t have to speak to people.”
6. “Therefore, dear Sir, love your solitude and try to sing out with the pain it causes you. For those who are near you are far away… and this shows that the space around you is beginning to grow vast…. be happy about your growth, in which of course you can’t take anyone with you, and be gentle with those who stay behind; be confident and calm in front of them and don’t torment them with your doubts and don’t frighten them with your faith or joy, which they wouldn’t be able to comprehend. Seek out some simple and true feeling of what you have in common with them, which doesn’t necessarily have to alter when you yourself change again and again; when you see them, love life in a form that is not your own and be indulgent toward those who are growing old, who are afraid of the aloneness that you trust…. and don’t expect any understanding; but believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.”
Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
7. “There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more”
George Gordon Byron
8. “The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline towards the religion of solitude.”
9. “I have to be alone very often. I’d be quite happy if I spent from Saturday night until Monday morning alone in my apartment. That’s how I refuel.”
Audrey Hepburn: Many-Sided Charmer, LIFE Magazine, December 7, 1953
10. “Orlando naturally loved solitary places, vast views, and to feel himself for ever and ever and ever alone.”
Virginia Woolf, Orlando
If you need support try http://www.standalone.org.uk
Naked before the mirror, her limbs bent in wilful
directions. She was a misshapen tree, bent
by a bomb blast in some forgotten war, misshapen
but surviving in the ruins of a bombed out town
in a ruined land with a name impossible to spell.
Like the victim of a witch’s spell one leg pointed
left, the other pointed right pulling her opposite
ways. Her life was a circle, a gravitational pull
shadows on the bedroom ceiling, flickering
like the wings of a bird in a locked room.
If I had my life to live over I’m not sure I would do anything differently. Life is a journey, a series of crossroads, roundabouts and T junctions without any signposts to guide the way. At each intersection we must make a choice. Our decisions are based on limited information. Emotions, intuition and experience colour our judgement and we choose what we think best at the time. We evaluate, we take a risk or not. Whatever path we take there will be highs, lows and plateaus but the journey will not necessarily be better, just different.
The truth is life is unknowable. Crystal balls and tea leaves will not help. Surrender to your journey wherever it will take you for it is uniquely yours, your own fascinating story. Enjoy the highs, learn from the lows, rest during the plateaus. There are no good or bad journeys, only what was meant to be.
If only Eve could don a straw hat and vanish to the Isle of Paros!
Instead, she was trapped in the Garden, weaving hard lines
of blood as the beginning people judged her pink lady tears.
Where was her power over water? Lilith dried out in the desert.
They shall possess her forever and dwell there
from generation to generation.
As the mushroom cloud rose over the maroon lagoon
Eve wondered if it was, in fact, a good time for a trip.
She was wearing her lucky pearls and the new horizon
walking boots, birthday gifts from the ferryman.
It is He who casts the lot for them,
And with His hands He marks off their shares of her.
Sad to see swine die but she was really more of a snake person.
So she turned her last page with the left hand
of darkness and prepared to recycle her perfect skin,
gala smooth and hoping for first prize. Ka-Ching!
“All that is gold does not glitter,
not all those who wander are lost;
the old that is strong does not wither,
deep roots are not reached by the frost.”
– J.R. Tolkien
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
— Leon C Megginson
“People are more difficult to work with than machines. And when you break a person, he can’t be fixed.”
— Rick Riordan, The Battle of the Labyrinth
I’ve been away for some time but I’m back, or at least for now. Apologies for my absence from Blogging World and the world in general. So far I’ve spent five weeks trapped in a small hospital room in Inverness following a fractured femur. Tragically my treatment has not gone according to plan. After the initial operations to repair the original fracture I have acquired another THREE broken bones in my legs due to careless handling and bad advice from Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists. And the worst news is that the fresh broken bones are not fixable. Any surgery could make things worst not better. No one seems to know what the prognosis is.
I’m trying to stay positive but it’s hard. I don’t know how much mobility or independence I will ever regain. It’s also hard not to be consumed with anger for the so-called experts in this hospital who have damaged me and are now trying to sweep their negligence under the carpet. I have not even had a proper apology or any acknowledgement that anything has gone wrong.
Anyway, when my mind is not fried by morphine, pain and exhaustion I will try to post here on The Purple Hermit and I hope my followers and supporters will understand.
The sun more pink now.
She was afraid,
swatted it flat
and bloody with her hand.