Friday, September 24, 2010

Sweet Solitude

Sometimes I wonder why it's so hard to just unplug, you know? I have an hour between two of my morning classes, and it's not worth it to go all the way back to my apartment (on campus, but still) and walk all the way back. When I schedule my classes that way, my first thought is What am I going to do with that extra time? Where do I go? It's silly, really, because I'm lucky enough to go to one of the most beautiful universities EVER, imo, and here I am making a big deal about not knowing how to spend an hour. I've gotten better, I'm sitting in my favorite spot on huge stairs that form benches (they have a separate staircase) on the side of a major campus center. So far, I'm the only person just sitting here, as most people prefer the tables and chairs that line the frozen yogurt shop or the student services center. I like my stone benches though, they're relaxing purely for their simplicity, their lack of defined use. There's a fountain in the shape of our school's mascot at the base of the stone benches, so I get to feel the breeze, the San Diego autumn heat, and hear the splash of water. 

It's eternally wonderful, and yet, whenever I sit here I feel the need to have SOMETHING going on. My Blackberry next to me, perhaps, or even blogging, like now. The only time I brought a book, I called my dad to talk anyway. Why is it so hard to step away from interpersonal connections and just breathe? It seems like I constantly need stimulation, something that has only gotten worse over time. I am in medias res, or in the middle of things, with a lot of things. My morning, my adjustment to being back at school, and a book that my grandmother sent me called Gifts of the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. She writes a very poignant chapter on solitude, and how we must take the opportunities to step back from our daily lives and take time to just be. Alone. Unplugged. Because we can't give life everything that we have, we can't develop interpersonal connections, unless we can find peace alone, in her case on a secluded beach, in my case on stone benches next to a fountain. 

I've started to rejoice in the solitude I get from yoga. Yes, there is an instructor, yes there are classmates, fellow souls seeking the same peace that I'm seeking, but each stretch is a test of personal limits, of inner strength just as much as outer. Running can give me that solitude as well. But still, I often find the need to be plugged in, especially to my iPod. If I'm at the gym, on a machine, I don't have the time to think, nor the desire. I send text messages, try to read Runner's World, and just generally try to find connections. Outside is different. There is music playing but after the first few miles I don't hear it. I try to work out kinks in my thoughts, subtle but disturbing nuances in my day, and any lingering emotion that I want to work through. I think it's gotten harder since I had to sit out of long distance running, because I wasn't accustomed to not having an hour or more daily to just pound the pavement and think. Now running is clouded with worry...what if I'm not healed? What if I'm just angering fate?

Soon, I think. Soon I will be able to put miles and miles down and not worry about my body, because I know I'm capable of great things. Starting with taking time for blissful, sweet solitude.

I'll leave you with this last picture, something my mom took on her cell phone, as a reminder to take time to relax and reflect, and to be eternally grateful for natural peace.

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