Living a Beautiful Life – 1986
Written by: Alexandra Stoddard
I have a friend whose solitude ritual is gardening. At the end of each day he waters and pulls weeds or plants seeds and bulbs as the season dictates. This makes him feel refreshed when he goes indoors showers and prepares for the evening.
If I didn’t have my time alone in my garden to think, I couldn’t carry on. I find solutions for difficult problems, I’m able to reflect and dream and no one bothers me. All the time I’m awed by the color and scent in my garden and have a renewed enthusiasm for the way I want to live my life.
A landscape architect walks in the woods and feels the mystery and majesty of nature and his cares evaporate.
After an hour or 2 in the wilderness I feel the miracle of life and I feel fortunately to be alive. I need time in nature, alone, and invariable I merge with some revelation, some sense of an expanded vision and understanding.
Rituals of solitude are essential to all artists. In a studio, a place off limits to others, the artist begins to create his own reality-whether by writing a scene or painting a picture or creating a symphony. You are an artist too, creating living art everyday. Each of us has some unique gifts and we can and we get close to them when we are left alone to explore what they really are. I’ve listened to clients from all over the world telling me how they came to paint or sculpt, or play the piano or make pottery, or run a business, and all their discoveries were made in solitude. Virginia Woolf’s term is “a moment of being,” so that a “shock” to our state of reality can intrude-that marvelous feeling of ecstasy when you discover something new to be passionate about.
A pianist friend from Birmingham practices 8 hours a day, she has a piano in a separate room where she can go and shut the door. But when she wants to be alone, she prefers to sit in the living room. When she travels on business with her husband, Karen brings along a silent keyboard so she can practice t in her hotel room without disturbing anyone. She gave a solo concert in Italy last August, and is working toward another concert next summer. Why does she play the piano? What is moving her to play better and better? The creative life is rooted in what Emerson referred to as the expression of our particular genius. It is gifts like these that seem to flower in solitude. Karen says, “I need to play to be happy. This is such a priority to me that everything else seems simple. I play for myself. If others like my music I am happy. I can share it. My music is me.