Bird Droppings March 11, 2014
A good teacher teaches so the journey continues not ends
“I have never found the companion that was as companionable as solitude. We are for the most part more lonely when we go abroad among men than when we stay in our chambers.” Henry David Thoreau, “Solitude,” Walden, 1854
There has been an attraction for me to Thoreau for a number of years perhaps since that day when I actually started reading his words rather than simply skimming along gathering the information needed to pass a test back in high school. I recall so little from high school yet I know his name came up a time or two in literature classes. I was out watching stars earlier today a clear and crisp sky the air cooler today than in several days recently but so clear. Perhaps it is Thoreau’s affinity for the woods and out of doors that has caught my attention in my recent years. I do find myself often simply wandering not in a blank stupor but in awe of each leave, twig, bird and whatever else is in the pathway ahead.
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” Henry David Thoreau, 1854
It has been a few years since I have wandered off into the mountains to simply walk. Old age perhaps or is it bad knees that is keeping me from the switch backs and trails I use to hike. I have been content to go out into my yard early in the day when all is at rest listening and watching at a world asleep yet so alive. Are there lessons to learn in the quietness and solitude of early morning? Each breath and sight is a lesson if we allow it to be. Every new smell or sound a page to turn. I find each day something new as I walk out and wander in the confines of a back yard. It could be a star I have never seen or an owl hooting off in the distance perhaps a dove calling early in the morning. Today a young doe crossed my path as she went back from the grassy area near our house to the concealment of the forest.
Several years back I watched a dove cooing from a pole as I walked out on St. Augustine beach as the sun rose one morning. The waves were hitting against the beach and the doves were the only sounds and lessons for me on that morning.
“We live in a very tense society. We are pulled apart… and we all need to learn how to pull ourselves together…. I think that at least part of the answer lies in solitude.” Helen Hayes
I can be confusing at times through seeking solitude in a crowded world which often brings questions from the masses. Most people congregate in flocks like sheep wanting the companionship and close company the protection of the herd. I enjoy that aspect albeit only briefly but much rather would return to my own thoughts and seek quiet in another way be the sanctuary of my room at school or my writing desk in the upstairs bonus room among my books and papers.
“It is only when we silent the blaring sounds of our daily existence that we can finally hear the whispers of truth that life reveals to us, as it stands knocking on the doorsteps of our hearts.” K.T. Lang
We become so over powered by our own existence and lose track of where we are in this jumbled mixed up world. Daily I meet people who have nothing but their so called friends; there is no real world at all for them. All of existence is that façade of their material world.
“Never be afraid to sit awhile and think.” Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun
“By all means use sometimes to be alone. Salute thyself; see what thy soul doth wear.” George Herbert
I remember my first trip to the monastery in Conyers Georgia so many years ago. The Trappist monks living there farm and work in various crafts each of their own specialties. They have a store and sell produce and baked goods and of course their handcrafts. I recall one of the brothers who was a stained glass artisan and was famous for several churches’ he had designed and built windows for in the Atlanta area. It was always amazing watching as they work all within a world of silence, as Trappist’s take a vow of silence. As you walk through the parts of the Monastery the public is allowed into there is a calm feeling there.
“Only in quiet waters do thing mirror themselves undistorted. Only in a quiet mind is adequate perception of the world.” Hans Margolius
I have talked with several people in recent days whose minds are not clear and their perceptions are distorted. It is so difficult to try and calm a ripple in a pool of water. It will literally continue to the side of the pool no matter what you try. You can distract the ripple but it then sends another ripple occasionally colliding with and interfering and canceling out the first. Sometimes they can join forces and be twice the ripple and distortion as they move towards the edge of the pond.
“Solitude shows us what should be; society shows us what we are.” Robert Cecil
An interesting statement but sooner or later even Thoreau had to walk to town to check on life and his own needs.
“The great omission in American life is solitude; not loneliness, for this is an alienation that thrives most in the midst of crowds, but that zone of time and space, free from the outside pressures, which is the incubator of the spirit.” Marya Mannes
If only we could make use of solitude but far too many people fear it. We seek companions; we seek that herding instinct to be with a group or a society.
“In solitude, where we are least alone.” George Gordon, Lord Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage
Then I watch the news and see how a moment of peace is broken by five minutes of news and a world being torn apart perhaps not enough solitude. I wonder if it would help by sending all the people wanting war off by themselves maybe to a monastery where a vow of silence is the rule. They would have to learn to deal with anger in silence. Send all the people who are seeking more wealth off by themselves and a vow of poverty and then wealth has no meaning if you cannot impress someone with it. What good is more wealth if you have nothing else to buy?
“Inside myself is a place where I live all alone, and that’s where I renew my springs that never dry up.” Pearl Buck
Another week and another day or two and soon spring will be here again. We have crocuses, tulips and daffodils poking out and of course most of the flowering shrubs and trees are budding and blossoming. We are all intertwined in this world and far too many try and distort and live unconnected from their humanity. I wonder as I look and listen if we spend far too much time trying to impress others with clothes, things, music, money, power, credit cards and all the trappings of this material world and never really look at what we really have. Maybe we do each need some silence and solitude to try and sort out who we are and why. But for the moment now please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.
My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
(We are all related)
“When we help others we help ourselves. It’s not good to get too focused on your own problems, especially when others need more than you.” Oneida saying