Sunday, February 9, 2014

solitude v socialization

Love my job: teaching, interacting, guiding, and mentoring. We talk and laugh.

Weekends I need solitude to recharge. Or gentle loving socialization.

It's the weekend. After a cup of coffee I did laundry and dishes, vacuumed the whole house, stripped bed and washed sheets, sorted clutter, removed trash, put clean laundry and dishes away, graded papers, cooked and ate breakfast, showered and cleaned the bathroom. I talked on the phone with my cousin and checked emails.

Got restless. Sunny and 20s F outside, headed south for woods trails and ocean. Went snowshoeing and walked on the beach.

 But here's the thing.


How can I be so intolerant? The woods were OK, just the possibility of humans, but no interactions except a brief hello to a healthy couple unloading from their car as I was, blinded by sun, approaching mine in the parking lot on my way out. But the beach. I happily drove in to the parking lot, but was stopped by a colorfully dressed grinning woman taking photos of a family gleefully posing in snowshoes. Stand up, sit down, jump, stand with one foot up, crazy faces: snap snap snap.  A man with a grey ponytail guarded her from crazed parkers. I felt like a crazed parker as I waited for the colorful snowshoe family to fulfill the photo allotment. They waved to me, frenziedly, with Crayola mittens, when they finished. I grimaced back and pulled into a spot.

I gauged the weather and trail conditions, and decided on a jacket, thin gloves, and clog boots: hat and snowshoes not needed. I headed for the beach.

The trail was like a superhighway, groomed and well-packed. Could have walked it in sneaks.

Right away I noticed the woods were full of people. I heard shouts and calling. I saw people in expensive jackets, hats & gloves, gaiters, and snow pants. They used deluxe snowshoes, skis & poles. They wore big back packs, stuffed with stuff. I thought about how in summer I hike these trails in flip-flops, T-shirt and jeans. I remember the summer hikers with big boots, walking poles, huge cameras, and backpacks. My annoyance grows.

I jump and skip down the superhighway trail. Through the woods, sunny and snowy. I send tentacles to my heart and soul: am I transformed? Has natural beauty elevated my spirit, enlightened my soul?

I get to the end of the trail. I can see the ocean. I can see the bottom of a person ahead of me on the trail, upended, adjusting her knee-length gaiters. She is blocking the trail. I stop. My annoyance grows.

Darn it. I'm here for sustenance, not irritation. We lightworkers are not supposed to get irritated, right? I'm a failure. Can't recharge and can't socialize.

The upended woman in gaiters notices me and moves ahead so I can pass. Then she begins to bray and holler. She and her friend accompany a pitbull on a leash. I skip ahead and turn right to walk on the shingle, feel the sun, and listen to the waves. They follow me and I can hear them so I turn back, arc a wide berth, and walk up the beach the other way. It's quiet. I try again to feel peace in my soul. Suddenly there is a group of people on the ridge above me, all decked out in colorful swishy nylon clothes, walking poles with metal snowshoes or skis. They continually call to each other and announce their mundane observations. Their shouts slice the silence, shave and scrape at serenity.

I look at green crabs in the water, exotic shells on the beach, and the blue blue sky. I listen the to the gentle woosh of the waves. I smell the salt and sea. Ice crunches beneath my boots. The sky is blue, the sun is warm. There is snow on the rocks, ice on the beach. Sea glass is frozen sheets of ice. I look for ospreys, see a herd of seagulls on a far rock. Seaweed drapes the slabs of rock.

I try to ignore them, but their shouts jar my sense of peace. Time to head home. Home with unending silence, solitude, and selfishness. Home with order and predictability, candles, incense, knitting, and good books. Home.

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