The image and wisdom portrayed in this illustration by Maurice Sendak in Ruth Krause’s children’s book, Open House for Butterflies (1960) is one of my enduring favorites, and now, as our Canadian summer has finally begun and a busy season of writing workshops draws to a close, I am craving a period for renewal and solitude. I am utterly Zoom weary, and I find I am spending the better part of my morning writing practice staring out of the window, a drift of random thoughts in my mind. Yes, it’s time for a pause, taking long walks near streams, Lake Ontario, and the ravines and trails that populate our city and province. I crave the space and time without any deadlines or Zoom meetings filling my days.
In the two years that Covid has dominated our lives, the many weeks of encouraging and hearing the experiences and stories of those who live with cancer, organ transplant or cardiac conditions, the fragility and uncertainty of life reminds me to take nothing for granted. In past weeks, I’ve also been reminded that my heart failure continues to progress, and I am now waiting on test results to determine for a mitral valve clip is an option for the next steps in my treatment. The round of medical tests has also been a factor in my craving for solitude and renewal, to “be quiet near a little stream and listen.”
British psychiatrist, Anthony Storr, in his 1988 book, Solitude: A Return to the Self, wrote that the capacity to be alone is important for our brains to function at their best. “Learning, thinking, innovation, and maintaining contact with one’s own inner world are all facilitated by solitude,” he stated.
Having the capacity for what psychoanalyst Adam Phillips called “fertile solitude” is essential for not only creativity, but our happiness. Without time and space unburdened from external input and social strain, we are less able to “fully inhabit” our interior lives, which are the raw material of all art. (https://www.themarginalian.org/2014/07/18/adam-phillips-on-risk-and-solitude/)
My final expressive writing workshop series for this season ends in a week and a half. I will be taking the summer for a break from Zoom and deadlines, instead, using the time to be quiet and engage with my own wandering thoughts. I have long been someone who cherishes time for quiet reflection to renew my spirit and creativity. Renewal–a time of quiet and solitude–without the need to produce something–is the fertile ground for the new ideas and re-energizing that inspires the work I do with others. It is precious time to simply enjoy life without schedules and external demands on my time.-something recognized valuable not only by psychologists, but writers and poets too.
“When from our better selves we have too long
been parted by the hurrying world and droop,
sick of its business, of its pleasures tires,
how gracious, how benign, is Solitude.
Finally, I am taking a break from bi-weekly posts on my blog. During the next several weeks, please feel free to access the archive for past posts and writing suggestions. Meanwhile, my thanks to you for following and reading my blog. Hopefully, you find some inspiration of your own from the musings I write. I’ll be back online as summer begins to fade.
Wishing you a pleasant summer, a time to enjoy nature, nourish and renew your spirits.