To Inspire You in the New Year

One year ago, I spent the holidays in Ireland, more than half of it alone on the island of Inis Meain. (Go see photos.) It wasn’t a digital sabbatical—I had an Internet connection at my cottage—but it was a giant swath of solitude.

I’ve been reading a book titled Solitude, and have found a gem on nearly every page. Here’s an early one in the introduction, which gives you a sense of the book’s key idea:

… what goes on in the human being when he is by himself is as important as what happens in his interactions with other people.

 … Two opposing drives operate throughout life: the drive for companionship, love, and everything else which brings us close to our fellow men; and the drive toward being independent, separate, and autonomous. …

The creative person is constantly seeking to discover himself, to remodel his own identity, and to find meaning in the universe through what he creates. He finds this a valuable integrating process which, like meditation or prayer, has little to do with other people, but which has its own separate validity. His most significant moments are those in which he attains some new insight, or makes some new discovery; and these moments are chiefly, if not invariably, those in which he is alone.

In a similar vein, I also stumbled on a poem by Marge Piercy, “For the Young Who Want To.” Here’s a stanza to inspire you in the new year:

The real writer is one
who really writes. Talent
is an invention like phlogiston
after the fact of fire.
Work is its own cure. You have to
like it better than being loved.

I’m taking a brief digital sabbatical over New Year’s Eve & Day, but tune in Monday, January 3, for the final part of Darrelyn Saloom’s series, “A Feast of Days.”

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7 thoughts on “To Inspire You in the New Year

  1. Elizabeth West

    I’ve always wanted to go to Ireland; my mother has been with her sister, who lives in the UK, and she says it’s just gorgeous. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

    I think solitude is necessary for creativity, but too much isn’t a good thing. The need for companionship, if not fulfilled, can usurp the good things about solitude and shut you down. For those who are mostly alone, I highly recommend seeking the company of other people on a regular basis. It will help you recharge. Church is good, or a group that involves some interest other than writing. And no, online forums don’t count. People need to be in the same room with each other.

    Methinks I’ve found my next blog post, heh.

  2. dasSuiGeneris

    You have presented some very nice meditations here Jane. Solitude can be quite enriching sometimes… as can digital sabbaticals! I actually somewhat envy that very notion! I am now off to explore the blog you linked to in your post. I hope you find solace in your unpluggedness (word, lol?). ~das~

  3. Steven M Moore

    The very small but interesting Writers’ Museum in Dublin inspired me, but you can see me in that city’s Stag Head Pub on my website. I love Ireland. If it weren’t for my arthritis, I’d go there for a couple of years and write. Ireland was the best vacation we ever had. Enjoy your digital sabbatical!

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