Thoughts about solitude

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Since holidays began less than 24 hours ago I have watched 4 movies, cooked twice, grocery shopped once, slept in and walked a bit of the Coogee-Bondi trail. It is bliss.

This isn’t the weekend I had planned, a party derailed by a persistent mucky cough, but isolation turns out to be the ticket. Off the back of 3rd term (how is it over already?) and staring down the barrel of a joyous beach week with friends, being completely alone is a strange kind of invigorating.

House-sitting. How did I not know before college how wonderful you would be? I burn candles. Make many more than usual cups of tea. Stay up too late, sleep in too long. Make friends with Tivo. Read in bed. Use an electric blanket. Open all the shutters, snuggle under a blanket.

One of the first things I loved about St Luke’s (before I ever went there) was how the website speaks about living in this beautiful part of the world, under the spectre of death. This is Clovelly cemetery, up on the hill, overlooking everything.

When I walk, which I force myself to do, it is exactly right. Cold and grey. With no sense of direction, I end up at Clovelly, my ‘home’ beach, where church = home. So weird to have a home beach. All these places I never knew existed before last year.

It smells like salt and wet wooden slats and I breathe in deeply, the kind you feel, and I wonder for a moment if I breath twice as quickly normally because they’re only shallow breaths, and then I wonder how I could ever know.

I smile at a tiny kid in a raspberry gilet who is being led up a staircase by his father. He looks unhappy and I think about all the stairs they still have to go. Then I wonder about this man who takes such a small child on such a big walk and I wonder if I could remember his face, for later, just in case he turned out not to be the father after all… Suddenly it’s all police procedurals and how people could possibly describe the eyebrows when I could barely tell you his skin colour

Another Dad talks about climate change and wattle blooming early with his teenage son. It makes me happy. I might be the only one of the 3 of us who can say that, but who knows? Maybe these botanical interjections are what the son will think about when he’s older. The way I name, to friends, every flower at Limeburners I can, even though it drives me crazy when Mum does it to me.

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I think about a poet I like who wrote about nature all the time and said that she wasn’t right unless she was in it, and I think there’s something in that. Being out there woke me up, raindrops, seaspray and all.

Very rarely do I wish my life was different, but I felt it for a second today. A woman sprinted along a path and a brown dog raced in and out of people, stopped to investigate smells. Then he looked up and saw her, still running, far in the distance, and ran with complete abandon to her, and she didn’t once look back to check, and I thought about how often they must do it as he tore down the curve of the path, for them both to know how it goes. And I wanted that, in that moment. Thought about what I wanted… just a dog probably. And I have one of those, of sorts. And so I didn’t want a different life after all, it turns out.

Just this one. In this moment between classes and dinners cooked for me and some of the most crazy joy I’ve ever known, it looks like rest and solitude and washing up. Next week it will look like John Mayer singing through speakers and communal dinners cooked at dusk. So much happy. So much thankful.

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One thought on “Thoughts about solitude

  1. What a lovely post. I like solitude and nature too, and relate to so much of this. If I were to wish for anything more in my life, it would also be a dog. And a cat. I would have both – well, so long as they got on together.

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