On Friday I headed into the city after school. It was a time of solitude and calm wandering. I headed straight for my favourite coffee shop for a concentrated Americano (or a slightly dilute espresso depending on your half full/half empty perspective). I slowly browsed my favourite second hand book store, the smell of old books piled as if in some giant game of kerplunk made me feel strangely relaxed. After the books I went shopping for essential work wear; suits. My current suits seem to be getting a little tired and threadbare. After a while of enjoying the solitude I began to miss people. I wanted to head home to see the lovely Sharon and the little man, and on the way home I missed the banter of my car sharing friends. For me, solitude is a strange thing. I sometimes feel the need for it, and when I find it I enjoy the loneliness and instantly feel the desire to share it. This seems contradictory, and it is. It is similar to the strange relaxed feeling I get in the mountains. While in the mountains looking after groups it often calls for remote supervision. On these occasions I find moments between meeting the groups at catch points and I am on my own, and at these times I feel truly relaxed. However, when I head into the mountains with no other purpose other than my own solitude, I do not feel so relaxed. I rush to achieve a summit or a goal and am not happy until it is done and I am on my way home.
So, I am not a person that is truly relaxed with solitude. I am a pretender who wants to run away from people then quickly stop and shout, “come here to see this”. All these words I have written in this post can be summed up in the Rilke poem ‘Pathways’ that says it all more clearly. For me it is more of a mantra than poetry;
Understand, I’ll slip quietly
away from the noisy crowd
when I see the pale
stars rising, blooming, over the oaks.
I’ll pursue solitary pathways
through the pale twilit meadows,
with only this one dream:
You come too.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke