To sit on rocks, to muse o’er flood and fell,
To slowly trace the forest’s shady scene,
Where things that own not man’s dominion dwell,
And mortal foot hath ne’er or rarely been;
To climb the trackless mountain all unseen,
With the wild flock that never needs a fold;
Alone o’er steeps and foaming falls to lean;
This is not solitude, ’tis but to hold
Converse with Nature’s charms, and view her stores unrolled.
But midst the crowd, the hurry, the shock of men,
To hear, to see, to feel and to possess,
And roam alone, the world’s tired denizen,
With none who bless us, none whom we can bless;
Minions of splendour shrinking from distress!
None that, with kindred consciousness endued,
If we were not, would seem to smile the less
Of all the flattered, followed, sought and sued;
This is to be alone; this, this is solitude!
I seem to recycle this poem in a post every few years. It started in high school. But I kind of hated English back then because uh, how do we know what the poets were on about? Life experience, the teacher replied. We laughed and rolled our eyes. Well, yeah, years later how familiar I am with being alone but delighted with nature’s charms (like when I took this photo!) and how keenly too, have I felt solitude midst the hustle and bustle.
Especially since mum has been sick. Wow, what an incredibly isolating road. Whatever we like to think of our relationships, much of it seems to come down to physical proximity (Tinder and Happn got it right) and being at similar life stages. Over the years my closest friends, and those I’ve kept in contact with, are almost always people I’ve lived with. And what I mean by life stages is that my friends naturally concern themselves with training programs and careers, dating and marriage, real estate and travels. Not caring for children or dealing with terminal illness, yet. When changes create jarring differences between your priorities and routines and theirs, close friends aren’t as close as you think.
Drifting between cities doesn’t help. First Sunday at the church – oh that’s good, the pastor nodded absentmindedly as I gave a brief response to the inevitable question about my “holidays”. Oh well I doubt it was intentional and he’s hardly the only one. No, I’m not perpetually on holidays but I’m sure if I was those around me would engage in more of a conversation. It’s a little disappointing and hurtful – do our daily lives appear too normal for those around us to ask about the chaos? Are young adults, myself included, too preoccupied with our own stuff? Am I too withdrawn? Don’t know what to say? I guess there could be a million other reasons too.
Friends are fickle, especially when you’re in a pickle. That’s my attempt at a rhyme and alright, I admit, not entirely true. Some are incredibly generous (though mostly mum’s friends and older church folks) and others are surprisingly understanding. Our heartfelt thanks for kind words and prayers, and help with school runs, play dates, meals and more.