This is for the Daily Post prompt, Solitude
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There are two types of solitude but only one authentic one. The imposter is the nasty type which has all the appearance of solitude but your body or your mind collude to take you away somewhere else. Heavy clouds of anxiety when your body rages mean that you cannot enjoy any of it. You get impaled like a butterfly on the wheel that is always the same, the one about survival, about finding yourself in this whirly age where we are only now fighting back against all those rich people telling us we can’t afford to live sanely and beautifully and non-earth-killingly. You stop thinking about writing and worry instead about how to be yourself with dignity? How to navigate the puffs of fart-smelling shame that keep wafting up out of your insides, the anxiety-rack of concerns about money, independence, confidence that come from trying to keep your life together.
That is not solitude. That is just being alone too much when you really want to go to Jane’s but are worried you’ll overdo it so instead you’ll stay home. That sort feels like a prison.
The best kind of solitude is fully centred right in this particular moment, which is where the sensory and the sensual come in. The past and the future do not have direct scents or sounds (though memories have memory scents and sounds). You can be rolling your bare feet around in still-slightly-damp morning grass but you won’t even feel it if you’re worried about how to manage your shame when one more week goes by when your bank balance doesn’t extend to the paying of the utilities, when one more Submittable status goes from “In Progress” to “Declined”.
No, solitude does not just require time. It also involves space. Not so much the physical kind – although you do need some physical space, of course. I guess you could if needed write inside a cardboard box, at least until your toe cramps steal your concentration. Enough physical space is necessary, but if you are writing in the middle of a 100-acre forest and you do not have the internal space, then even there your solitude will be overrun by internal semi trailers and internal fueding neighbours.
Spacetime solitude enfolds you like a peacock puffs up its feathers. All those eyes to see with. You are protected here from the rain. The true solitude always returns. Everything goes and everything returns. It’s just one more week where it’s gone, that’s all.
I read a short story I liked very much before, by a writer whose writing I hadn’t yet met called Rebecca Schiff.
We found a clearing in the woods, known in our guidebook as the Garden of Peace. He produced a bubbler from its velveteen satchel. We smoked under a Navajo quote, “Thoughts are like arrows: once released, they strike their mark.”
“More like Garden of Cultural Appropriation,” I said. This was one of the phrases you got to keep if you had not dropped out of college. I wasn’t sure who was the mark for this thought—him or the springs.
“Cultural appropriation,” he said. He tasted it on his tongue, added it to his worldview. We were sitting on a rock naked. I felt like a tutor with a promising student at the beginning of time.
“A lot of those Native quotes are made up,” he said.
“Everything’s made up,” I said.
He edged closer to me on the rock. This was my favorite kind of sex, sex based on being impressed. We kissed like we’d been kissing for days, like it was important, like something bad would happen if we stopped.
I super dooper like the way she writes, the characters in this story who feel full-blown. I wish I was better at characterisation. I keep saying if only I had more spacetime solitude, perhaps if I worked very hard for a very long time I could write the kind of stuff I really want to write.
You just need the space, as well as the time.