Tag Archives: marriage

All by Myself

18380808_1524829434235903_6230348940479299584_n(1)“Language . . . has created the word ‘loneliness’ to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word ‘solitude’ to express the glory of being alone.” – Paul Tillich

Our kids are grown, and my wife was out of town for the past week.  You do the math.  The house sure was empty.  I read a lot and for some diagnosable reason made the bed each morning and carried on with life’s responsibilities, but since television isn’t my thing and I rarely listen to music, other than the weird times when I carried on a conversation with myself, it sure was quiet around the house.  As they say, too quiet.

I think everyone would agree that loneliness is a terrible thing, but as Tillich noted, the English language makes room for an optimistic approach to time alone and calls it solitude.

Wendell Berry described solitude as the place where “we lose loneliness,” which is just a delightful thought.  He claims it a space where your “inner voices become audible” (tell me about it) and you sense “the attraction of one’s most intimate sources.”  It is a time and place where you reconnect with the inner you.

I don’t always like the inner me, but he deserves notice from time to time, and given the noisiness of this party called life it takes a little work to find the space.  Or your kids grow up and your wife takes a business trip.

When my dad died in 1994, I worried that my mom would be lost every day.  Turned out I was wrong.  When I spoke with her about it, she said, “I’ll be sad from time to time, but I’m not going to let myself be sad all the time.”  And for the eighteen years she had left on this planet, she was right.

Berry concluded that one emerges from solitude more useful to others: “The more coherent one becomes within oneself as a creature, the more fully one enters into the communion of all creatures.”¹

In solitude, I reflected on solitude and concluded that it deserves incorporation into the rhythm of life.  But I’m sure happy to have my wife home again.

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¹ Wendell Berry, “What Are People For?: Essays” 11 (Counterpoint, 1990).

 

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Mile Markers

Running Santa Barbara

At Mile One I am running down Santa Barbara’s legendary State Street where local shops intersperse the mega-chains: the “Only in Santa Barbara” souvenir shop sits ironically just past Macy’s.  I stride by Anna’s Taco Kitchen and Whiskey Richards and notice a parking lot attendant semi-successfully attempting to stay awake next to a sign advertising the grand opening of Rusty’s Pizza Parlor, which doesn’t seem to generate much traffic at half past six on a Saturday morning.  Even State Street Coffee is without a customer.

At Mile Two I run by Santa Barbara Harbor and count the marinas down from four to one where sleepy sailboats sit silently like an ocean graveyard of naked flagpoles in the quiet of a new day.  The unmistakable smell of bacon wafts deliciously from the Breakwater Café while busy workers in neon vests pickup Friday night’s trash to make way for the Saturday crowds.

At Mile Three the tourist corridor has receded and I run southwest along the Pacific Ocean, listening only to my labored breathing occasionally punctuated by the squawk of a passing seagull.  Elderly couples who dreamed of retiring on the American Riviera stroll by on carefully manicured and palm tree lined pathways, occasionally  stopping to sit on the park benches facing the ocean where massive ships sit equidistant on the hazy horizon like a real-life game of Battleship.

At Mile Three-point-Five I reach the mid-life crisis of my run.  I am at the end of beautiful Shoreline Park and the beginning of what appears to be a normal residential area, as if residing along the Pacific Ocean in this remarkable city could ever be considered normal.  It is time to turn around.  I will see nothing new from here on.

At Mile Four everything is the same but now seen from a different angle.  The seagull still squawks, and the ships have not moved.

At Mile Five the sailboats are yawning awake, and I am more tired than when I first noticed them as they slept.  I still smell bacon.

At Mile Six the first customer has arrived at State Street Coffee.  The parking lot attendant is now walking laps to stay awake.  I am now running uphill and noticeably perspiring.

At Mile Seven my run is complete.  I see my wife out for a morning walk as I return to the bed and breakfast where we are staying so that I can officiate a wedding this afternoon.  It has been a good run.

My wedding remarks are complete and printed, but I could say all I need to say just from this morning run.  Life is exactly like a good, long run, and a wedding is an important mile marker along the way.  Run well, my friends, and enjoy every step of the journey.