Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Staying Home in Solitude

"Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still. "
     ~Henry David Thoreau

Jenna’s left me with some questions, which seems like a good way to continue this week, as Mr. Pond has left us on our own again.  First, read Jenna's Post from Monday, and if you haven't already, follow all of her links. The supplementals are every bit as interesting and informative as the primary, and if you don't you'll miss this gem from Mr. Pond:

Writing is a way of life. It’s a way of thinking. We can’t really take breaks from being ourselves, at least not without grave epistemological implications. The process of writing can be nearly continuous. Our subconscious—or, worse, our dream consciousness—continues to create, to explore, to develop, to rephrase.
I actually love the idea of taking a break from myself and running around as someone else for a while, preferably someone with a woodkiln, a horse, and a dog that doesn't eat trash. But it would have to be a very short while.

"I have a great deal of company in the house, especially in the morning when nobody calls. "

This week Jenna asked what I mean by the need to "strike a balance"? She wants to know if "balance [is] something defined by personal situation, or by outside law, or both? " I see balance as entirely situational, and the situation is always fluid. In my life, creating balance generally means reminding friends and relatives that my little retreat in the woods isn't isolating so much as inspiring. It involves working to build on the moments of silence I do get, instead of mourning the ones I don't. Balance is personal, it requires that each person find the place where she  has her feet on the ground. It is not the even division of time, time doesn't divide that way. If I spend a whole afternoon chopping up the front garden, all night writing, all morning wandering the house in sunglasses, sipping coffee, my time feels balanced.  But everybody's different, and everything is always changing.

Jenna also asked what it means to be "too much the recluse". And again, it's a personal definition. Emily Dickinson wasn't "too much" of one, nor was Mary of Egypt, nor anyone whose pursuit of beauty took them away from the crowds.  I remember once in high-school a post-prom day trip was planned. I wouldn't go, 15 hours was too much time to spend with anyone, let alone eight other teenagers. No one understood. "Too much the recluse" for me, is when I start thinking longingly of kareoke bars or mall shopping. It means I've been spending too much time in my own mind. Sometimes, it also means trying to avoid making those I love feel rejected, which can be a difficult line to walk.  Not everyone feels it, maybe Jenna and Mr. Pond never think, "you know, I'm going to throw a party or something, soon. Maybe." But then maybe they have their own moments, or ways of dealing.

"Any fool can make a rule, and any fool will mind it."

 " Society," writes Jenna, "by default, is run on the extroverted principle, and its little social rules are not made with either the introvert or the artist in mind." I agree, which is in part why I am constantly forgetting those rules, they're easier to remember when they make sense.  "Should we take its dictums on what is and is not acceptable keep-to-oneself-ishness as moral law?" Of course not! In any situation, societal dictums are flawed at best, but here, in the very heart of our individual lives, society's rules are often oppressive and unnatural.   Defending solitude, our own and each other's is an on-going challenge, but an essential one.

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