From “Walden” by Henry David Thoreau:
“I have my horizon bounded by woods all to myself, a distant view of the railroad where it touches the pond on the one hand, and the fence which skirts the woodland road on the other. But for the most part it is as solitary where I live as on the prairies. It is as much Asia or Africa as New England. I have, as it were, my own sun and moon and stars, and a little world all to myself….
“I have never felt lonesome, or in the least oppressed by a sense of solitude, but once. And that was a few weeks after I came to the woods…In the midst of a gentle rain while these thoughts prevailed, I was sensible of such sweet and beneficent society in Nature, in the very pattering of the drops, and in every sound and sight around my house, an infinite and unaccountable friendliness all at once like an atmosphere sustaining me as made the fancied advantages of human neighborhood insignificant, and I have never thought of them since. Every little pine needle expanded and swelled with sympathy and befriended me.”
What lovely writing! And how bold an adventure—and what an immortal classic—our boy Henry created out of a solitary stay at a small pond in the woods!
Solitude. What a precious gift it can be to us as creatives and how hard it can be to come by. We need it to bring our best to the page, to focus all our time and energy on crafting our words. And yet, the world woos us away, or tries to, with endless distractions.
In the midst of all the time-stealers we face, let’s remember how important time alone is. Like Thoreau, we need time to gather our thoughts, to mull over ideas, to be alive and attentive to the amazing world around us.
Solitude isn’t easy to find these days. But to the writer, it can be more precious than gold. Let’s seek it and savor it as we all write on!
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