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Walking in a place empty of people carries with it so much more than it should, don’t you think? You go there to be alone, to think, or to try not to think, to get away from crowded malls, from tweets, emails, tv, and all of the things that you have to do. But take those things away and solitude seems like a finger pointing at you, singling out your foolishness. This is the beginning of the story of your disappearance, the story no one will know the truth of for a long time, ¬†exactly how the stranger leaped out of the woods and dragged you away. We hear too many of these stories, of hitchers on lonely highways, of overconfident solo hikers, or fading loners, or earnest adventurers who learned their lesson the hard way as they slowly starved alone in the middle of the wilderness. This was just a walk in a west-county park at dusk, and yet, its absolute emptiness, save for a fisherman so far way that he looked smaller than an eyelash, made it seem more like the opening scenes in a movie about the horrors of isolation. You’re either punished for being by yourself, or left alone as punishment.

Do men feel this way? Or is it particular to women, filled with all these stories of kidnapping and peril, starting with Little Red Riding Hood? Our growing up is clogged with cautionary tales. Why else would a true-life story of a woman hiking the Pacific Crest Trail alone be so intriguing to us?

But it’s so beautiful here alone. I understand why you need to be smart, to chose your where and whens. I understand why we need to share, I understand that completely. But there are times when you have to be by yourself to see, to hear, to really be where you are.

I don’t think I would ever want to give this up for safety in a locked house.

7 comments

  1. November 20, 2012 at 4:32 pm rosanna

    A few days ago I joined a few girl friends at a dinner party and we talked about going out alone.
    Actually we talked about being alone and how, although we all feel pretty confident, there is still a feeling of uneasiness in loneliness and wilderness.
    We discussed about recent violent crimes and about old fairy tales ( Little Red Riding Hood striking again), about our physical weakness compared to an average man and all the possible risks of walking our road by ourselves.
    What did we find out? that we shall never give up the chance and the luxury of being alone, truly alone, for a while no matter how many shivers we can feel down our backbones.
    Exactly as you wrote there are times when we need to be where we are and see and hear what we see and hear. No matter the dangers.
    My dear, a hug to you and excuse my slowness in commenting, real life has been quite compulsive but I always come and visit you.
    Rosanna
    PS thanks by Matteo for your compliments on his pic

  2. November 20, 2012 at 8:44 pm Amy

    Rosanna, one thing that I now know I’m not alone about is wondering about this – it’s very important to me to know that you and your friends all the way in Italy are thinking and talking about this too. And that you all would never give up the most important thing- the right to decide for ourselves where we can go, and when, and how. We have to deal with reality, but our hearts and our wills are still in our choices. Hugs back from across the ocean – it doesn’t ever feel like the distance is that great.

  3. November 21, 2012 at 12:12 am Daydreamer

    Dear Amy…. You are NOT Alone in that feeling… that questioning… that second guessing of your impulses to be by yourself out in the World! Not Alone at all!!! But the Aloneness of Self out in the World is SO Important! The ability to just BE by yourself on a path going where you are going…. without feeling the need to be either Defensive or challenging… Just to Be! Far better to live life fully and following your path than to cower in fear in a limited constrained existence! That is a self-made prison of fear….. because it is the Fear that destroys the life!
    The energy that you put out is what comes back to you! Yes, I think about where I am going and when…. but I value the times I can walk alone…. my focus my own…. my attention not distracted…. my sense of self Validated!
    And when you can bring home beautiful photos to share…. so much the better!!! so You are Not Alone…. we come too!

  4. November 21, 2012 at 3:33 pm Amy

    Betsy, I always bring you and Sans and Rosanna along on my walks, isn’t that an amazing thing? Isn’t it true that in those times when we chose solitude, we conjure up the people and places that aren’t there in actuality, and our lives seem to take on a larger scale, a scale that includes not just what’s right in front of us. We need that, don’t we?

    You are such an interesting and inspiring person, B., and what you write goes so much beyond the idea of “Comments”. Thank you for always bringing so much of yourself to my little blog world. And have a very very Happy Thanksgiving.

  5. November 27, 2012 at 3:00 am Daydreamer

    Hi Amy! Thank you for your kind words and Thankful Wishes!
    (I often worry that I am just getting too carried away with my Wordy comments…! I Love words and ideas and …. I’m glad you like my participation in your Blog world!)
    I have just linked my latest post to your Three Graces Exhibit post…. so I hope you don’t mind…!!! Let me know if you want me to un-link them! I just felt that credit was due to you for my Inspiration!
    I hope your show preparations are going well…. and not making you too insanely busy!

  6. December 11, 2012 at 2:06 pm Sans!

    I am walking now, Amy, along that path, under this leafless tree, right in the beams of the last sunlight. I am late but I am here, as usual :).

    Alone..I can’t remember when I have been truly alone. A silent, almost cold and empty kind of alone. Living in this tiny island, there’s always someone within a mile, a tweet or a call from me. It is obvious, isn’t it, that I am afraid of isolation. I love quiet but I don’t like being completely alone.

    I attended my uncle’s wake last night and as often so with death, I thought about the eventual journey we all would have to make one day. I had imagined it to be some kind of a walk you’d have to take all by yourself. Completely alone. How dreadful, I thought.

    And then I come here and I see these pictures and I am thinking maybe that eventual walk will not be so bad after all. And I am imagining how when that day arrives for me, I will remember this day when I take this walk, in all the beauty your eyes transcribed for us, Amy. And I will make believe, like you did, conversations with all my 3 friends, and I know I won’t feel so alone :).

    Amy, I hope you don’t think I associate your pictures with the gloom of death. Quite the opposite. They are glimpses of heaven for me.

  7. December 11, 2012 at 2:44 pm Amy

    Oh I didn’t at all! But I truly know what you mean. Someone I love is having a very serious operation right now, and we’ve been talking about this as much as you can before something serious happens. I think a lot about being alone by choice and by circumstance, and knowing that no matter what, there will be the time when you are going to be completely by yourself, even if your life was filled with people. I hope it feels right, if that’s close to the best word to describe it. There probably isn’t a word to describe it. But I want it to feel right, and I want to feel that something beautiful is waiting for us.

    I am so sorry about your uncle, Sans.

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