The Bliss of Solitude
I tend to get quite a few invitations for dinner whenever The Songwriter is out of town, as he has been this week. People seem to think I will be lonely, or bored, or both. I appreciate the thought immensely, of course, but I usually decline all offers.
There is a yawning chasm that stretches between lonely and alone. And, while I certainly miss The Songwriter’s lovely presence in the house, these occasional quiet weeks are, for me, a gift to be savoured.
With my usual schedule now banished, my heart slows down, down, to a secret beat - one remembered from childhood, only heard in the stillness.
Ordinary tasks are now more deliberate.
The prosaic becomes the sublime.
I polish furniture with a caress, sew on a button with the eye of a seamstress.
All the windows are flung open, beckoning chilled autumnal breezes into every corner of the cottage and I sit before them, in a favourite sweater, eyes closed, breathing in the fragrances of falling leaves and earth.
I notice the sound of the acorns that bounce like hailstones off the roof above my head - a veritable feast for the squirrels, falling right out of the skies.
Questions, complex and impenetrable, are ironed out completely during long conversations with Edward.
Earl Grey is brewed liberally, and poured from a transferware pot into cups carefully chosen to enhance the mood of the moment - Wedgwood for elevenses, majolica for night.
I take time to watch, fascinated, as a setting sunbeam shoots through an old crystal cross on my table, baptizing the room with rainbows.
Political news is cast out, replaced by Mozart and Petula Clark.
Stephen Fry reads me Harry Potter as I stir a cauldron full of soup.
I read and I read.
And knit with red wool.
And sleep soundly.
And dream of Christmas.
Here in the States, we place a high regard on the idea of happiness. So much so, its pursuit was actually declared an unalienable Right in our country’s Constitution. However, I have yet to encounter someone who can adequately define the word. Its definition tends to shift like the light from a prism with each individual I ask.
One thing I do know, happiness it is not to be found outside of oneself. For it is in the legendary bliss of solitude that it hides, wrapped in contentment, tied up with peace. It drifts down like snow on the shoulders of the quiet and the still, unaccompanied by any brass band of want or desire - unfettered by bitterness, independent of fear. It sits in the commonplace - in the sweet scent of lavender on a freshly ironed sheet, in the cheerful brown gleam in a white dog’s eye.
I found it waiting for me in a week all alone,
surrounded by books and dogs, in silence and love.