Solitude and Kindness

by Francisco Stork on July 30, 2016

Writing is a solitary activity – something you do alone. But the solitude that is needed is not only physical but emotional and spiritual. The quiet place that we must find is not just a room in the house or a writer’s shed but a kind of fortress inside of us that shields us at least temporarily from the hubbub around us. These days, unfortunately, the hubbub is full of anger. The air is full of I am right and not only are you wrong but you are bad. Sometimes the anger seems justified by the acts and words of others but it is still anger. It is anger, loud or quiet, explicit or subtle but still divisive. And sometimes the anger is indistinguishable from hatred (as in I wish to do you harm). Is it wrong to want to retreat from an atmosphere that feels poisonous? Anger is a gas that seeps into your being and builds up pressure until it is released in deed or word. And there you are in the hubbub. I look outside and see one- hundred- year old trees and you would think that peace in a setting like this would not be hard to find. But the anger has managed to seep in through the Internet, the television, the newspaper, the magazine I buy for the cartoons and the fiction. And I keep thinking of that fortress inside of me that I must build, at least for a while, before I am eaten up alive from the inside out. There is something that is refreshing, healing, about being silent and in silence. It doesn’t have to be total silence. There is music and the quiet conversation with one or two friends who are also intent on preserving something precious. The silence that is needed is a protected space where the tender seed of kindness can grow again. What is it about kindness that is so vital to creativity? Is it that writing is a giving, after all, a giving that depends on some form of kindness? Is it that kindness is what the world most needs from you and so you must do what you can to nurture it inside you? But it hurts not to be in the midst of it. I will be forgotten. Did you ever think that anonymity, not being special, would be one of your greatest fears? You need to be willing to be alone in order to write. Not just physically alone but spiritually. You need to be willing to build that inner fortress where your kindness will be protected from the siege of anger that surrounds it. Your mission through your work is to unite, never, never to divide (even when your cause seems right), and you must protect and grow the kindness needed for that task. And you must be willing to bear the solitude needed for the work and the loneliness too, at times. But there will be peace too and eventually the certainty that you are not alone.

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