A Walk to Remember (or Something Like It)

Thursday was a busy day. It’s hard to think of a day recently that wasn’t busy, but Thursday was busier than usual. I had my calculus class in the morning, then I had three hours tutoring math (and barely working on my own homework, but getting enough done to know I had a lot to do that evening), and then at noon, to the first Gay-Straight Alliance meeting of the semester. It went well. I wish it could have gone better, but nothing in life is perfect.

(And those things that feel perfect often have their own flaws beneath them.)

Then at two I headed over to be a part of an interview that my school was putting together for a presentation I was asked to be a part of. I went to the meeting place…but could not find them anywhere. (Later on I was told that there was a studio in the back of the room I was sent to, which explains why I didn’t see them initially.) So I sent a text message and waited. I looked out the windows at the new parking deck across campus, the one I’ve literally watched since it was grass and trees, then fenced-in mud, and now starting to look beautiful again, and waited.

After a few minutes, I decided I’d missed the event and went for a walk. I stepped outside into the cool air, took a deep breath of the freshness of spring waiting to happen, and then plugged in my earbuds and turned on my iPod.

Something special happens every time I do that.

30. Solitude

The music hit my ears and I stood up straighter. I could still hear the muffled sounds of people and construction in the distance, but now a new melody, a new beat filled my ears and filled my body. I walk more upright when I’m listening to music. I walk with an awareness atypical of standard silence. I walk as if I’m the only one in the world. As if everything has ceased to be but me.

It’s a sense of power that’s indescribable, because it isn’t a sense of power at all. It’s a sense of solitude, of singular aloneness. But it’s better than aloneness: Being alone implies a lack of company, a lack of companionship and a lack of presence. Being in solitude is completely different. Solitude means a solitary state. It’s a moment when we become our own presence, when we become our own company–when the world itself becomes synonymous with us.

I love solitude. I’m an introvert. I might not be shy (once I get to know you, or under the right circumstances otherwise), but I’m the biggest introvert you can imagine. Because, let’s face it, a lot of people confuse introversion and shyness all the time: Someone who’s shy is bashful and tries to go unnoticed. Someone who’s an introvert finds energy in aloneness (whereas an extrovert draws their energy from the presence of others). I’m an introvert. Without my time alone, I literally could go insane. I need solitude to release myself. To untie all the strings that become intertwined throughout me and then step out of the mess and come up again clean.

It was cold outside, so I only found myself walking for maybe ten minutes, fifteen at most. Still, those ten minutes were the best ten minutes I had all day. With Bird Song and Swimming playing in my head, with the wind blowing and the sun shining and the raindrops sparkling from the day before, it was all beautiful, it was all bright, it was all right.

Those ten minutes of solitude restored me. And those ten minutes of solitude reminded me how little time I typically have to be alone, to relax in my solitude instead of spending it working. I remember living at our old house, spending half my time outside, sitting in the sun, pacing in my own world of fantasy, whispering with the wind and walking with the sun, dancing in the rain and embracing the earth beneath my feet. I miss those days.

Those ten minutes didn’t last. I went home, I tried to do more than could be done in the time I had to do it, I was angry and in a poor mood the rest of the day, and then I stayed up late finishing a homework assignment I was certain I had wrong anyways. I guess you could say I’d tasted the Golden Apple and then I’d tasted it rot.

(I could be cutesy and say I forgot to think of my good luck charm the night before last, but a lack of dreams can only say so much of me when already, from the day before, my mood had been damaged and dented in more ways than one.)

Yesterday–Friday–I had classes in the morning. My calculus class was a pop quiz, but I know I got it right. My physics class was as daunting as always, but later at noon I was able to sit down with my teacher and I felt much better about things after that. He’s a fun teacher, and sometimes I think the amount of fun we have in class can be distracting, but he truly cares about his students, and that’s the kind of teacher I’d like to be someday. Then in differentials, wow. That was amazing. The entire time our teacher showed us the integrating factors for exact equations, my one friend and I glanced back and forth at each other, grinning and remarking how remarkably cool and beautiful it all was.

Math is a hard thing to see as beautiful for a lot of people, but for us, there’s few forms of beauty greater.

(At this moment in time, I can think of only two, give or take a handful of constants, k.)

I got to eat and enjoy lunch. I got to read a bit from my physics book. I got to our Phi Theta Kappa meeting and then I stuffed envelopes for an hour and talked with friends. It was looking like a good day. I felt happy again.

I read on the way home–loving every word of The Last Olympian–and at home I worked on homework. I made noticeable progress in physics, which is a lot more than I could say a day before. I read some of my math book and did over half my homework for calculus that’s due on Sunday. In the evening I got to watch two of my favorite TV shows and take a few moments to respond to a friend’s email. He made my evening. I’d be happy to think of him again that night. Then I read some more Percy Jackson before my eyes could stay open no longer.

Today’s been a productive day as well, and I’m happy for that. I just could wish for a little more than ten minutes of solitude, and now I think I could wish to share it wish someone special too. If only I could find that time, if only I could give that time away. And most of you won’t understand that, but hopefully one of you will.

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One thought on “A Walk to Remember (or Something Like It)

  1. I want to remark that solitude in presence of the wrong company is as lacking as it is alone. It can be worse still when that company is as understanding and fulfilling as can be hoped. I sincerely love being alone, but not alone with (or by) myself.

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