Living in solitude is a rich and rewarding experience. It provides me with what I need. Being adventurous by nature, I tried everything else and was disappointed. Solitude never disappoints. There is no one to let me down and no one to fight with. Worldly conflict is eliminated, and in retirement, so is the competition of the moneyed way of life. I don’t need drugs or alcohol, sex or shopping. The deeper I delve into this experience, the fuller it becomes. Without anyone holding me to patterns, I can make changes without resistance.
Having grown up in an unusual way, I became an unusual person. I now think it’s ridiculous to expect anyone to be normal. There is no normal.
There are days when I feel light as a feather, and days when I feel an enormous weight dragging me underwater. Yesterday, I could barely move. I stayed in the house, and in the evening I watched a movie. I had plans but did not force myself to do anything. I gave into the heaviness. This morning I woke up with more energy.
The heaviness may have been the tug of death. ‘Something’ does snatch us from the earth and end our existence here. I have, at times, wanted to die in order to end some kind of suffering that felt unbearable. When I think back on those times now, they are nothing. I can’t even remotely recreate that pain.
Everyone has a nemesis, (from nemein ‘give what is due.’) At this point, I think I have paid most of what was due. I don’t carry around any guilt or shame, nor do I have children who hate me or partners that resent me for ruining their lives. My contacts with people were brief and I stoically endured the blows they threw at me.
Throughout my life, I wanted ‘more time for myself’. All of the hours I spent giving my time away to please someone or make money felt like stolen moments. Nobody could give me what I was looking for, which was a ‘right’ relationship with myself.
I suddenly remember an incident that had a profound influence on me. When I was thirteen I used to stop at a friend’s house so we could walk to the bus stop together. For some reason, I always got there early, and because she was never ready, I had to interact with her older brother. He was the high school quarterback, a handsome guy who was dating a prom queen.
Because he was big and strong, he intimidated me and this obviously turned him on. When he saw my fear, he wanted to scare me even more. One day, to demonstrate his strength, he picked up the family cat and threw it like a football across the room into a wall. It was the first time I witnessed a deliberate and vicious act of cruelty by someone who clearly enjoyed it.
I remember thinking, “How can someone who throws a cat against a wall be the most popular boy in the high school?” It didn’t make sense then, and fifty years later, it still doesn’t make sense. This kind of behavior is not something I have ever accepted or been comfortable with.
Violence is repulsive to me. After being hit by my father as a child, I made the decision to never let anyone hit me again. And no one ever has. Whenever I see any living thing being hurt, I cringe inside.
It is only within the sanctity of solitude that I can turn off the violence that is embedded in American culture. Every morning, I look out at trees and flowers, I listen to silence, I absorb the serenity of a peaceful environment. It is only here that I can be right with myself.