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.”