Today marks the end of a week that required me to be at work by 8 am on some days, 8:30 on all the others. Which means I’ve been getting up between 5-5:30. Definitely NOT my time of day. Various responsibilities to students, opportunities with friends, co-workers and family members kept me out until 8:30/9 pm. The same is true for today (although I slept until 7:15)–but I have a glorious block of time this afternoon where I can work from home, where I will do some grading, and hopefully some studio organizing in preparation of a weekend with very few obligations and a potential snow storm. But more important, I look forward to a little time alone before returning to the world. I share a portion of one of Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet from December 23, 1903, as translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy.
Could there be a solitude that had no value to it? THere is only one solitude; it is vast and hard to bear. How often do we gladly exchange it for any kind of sociability, however trivial and cheap, or trade it for the appearance of agreement, however small, with the first person who comes along. BUt those may be the very moments when your solitude can grow; its growing is painful as the growing of boys and sad as the beginning of spring. But don’t be confused. All that is needed is the capacity to be alone with yourself, to go into yourself and meet no one for hours–that is what you need to achieve. To be alone, the way you were as a child, when the grown-ups walked around so busy and distracted by matters that seemed important because they were beyond your comprehension.