Friday, April 11, 2014

the solitary bird...

The conditions of a solitary bird are five:
The first, that it flies to the highest point;
the second, that it does not suffer for company, not even of its own kind;
the third, that it aims its beak to the skies:
the fourth, that it does not have a definite color;
the fifth, that it sings very softly.
San Juan de la Cruz, Dichios de luz y Amor

The first winter I came to the south west by myself, after thirty plus years of marriage, family, and community, presented me with an intimidating challenge - - loneliness.  Any phones calls were measured by dollars and letters took two weeks (no iPhone, no Skype). And I knew no one.

During my marriage I had a wonderful relationship with alone-ness. I could never get enough of it. Words such as solitude, silence were easily romanticized. Although as a child even though I liked being alone, loneliness could leave me feeling desolate and disconnected from others.

Here in the south west, almost four thousand miles from home and community, loneliness scared me again. Like a diver coming up from the depths, changing one’s pressure drastically ideally needs to be done in stages, to avoid an attack of the bends. My question was, do I have enough inner resources, personal security to generate and sustain a healthy, creative, balanced life on my own? How would I respond living without the daily physical presence of community? The answer scared me, I did not know. What inner demons, what old wounds and messages would haunt me left solely to my own company?

What is meaningful alone-ness? What is holy solitude or a deep diving into loving silence rather than loving community?  Besides I needed time alone to write. I wanted space to meditate, to know myself in a larger way.

Then, weeks later,  in spite of the odd hike, saying a passing hi to a new acquaintance, a telephone call or email from home, I was lonely. Not even my writing provided me with joyful purpose. I had a manuscript ready on the shelf unpublished, rejected -- a little like I felt myself. The demons messages were there. I felt isolated, defeated, and scared by my helplessness. I am not an instant friend maker.  The TV is a great reliever of loneliness so I unplugged it and put it out in the shed. Who was I without any “props”? I had questions to be answered.

I discovered the night. Dark comes early here in the southern desert. Often I turned off the lights, wrote by candle light, listen to a solitary bird’s final note for the evening, heard the coyotes hooting from the sage.  Some nights  I stretched out on the warm sand, losing my lonely self in the stars or remembering  some poetry, ”Be alone, and feel the [Oleanders] silently growing... Be alone, and feel the cosmos silently rocking." (author unknown)

Christmas day. Three months had passed. My daughters were flying in for the holidays.  As I looked out the bus window taking me to the airport I was excited. I had missed them dearly. Yet somewhere in those past months, like the solitary bird, I must have reached high, for even in the night I no longer suffered for company or from my alone-ness. As the bus pulled into “airport arrivals" I was in a faceless Love. Through the bus window, I whispered, “I won, thank you.”

photo source:

*written when I first came to the southwest, alone...

1 comment:

  1. hmm maybe i think i came across a poem by san juan de la cruz which im not sure whether its modified or not but iirc its like this:
    ''The lonely bird flying high.
    The lonely bird doesnt need friends.
    He doesnt even look for others of his kind.
    He is without colour.
    With his beak towards the heaven,he sings a gentle song.''

    if possible i would like to know whether this one is modified or not.And maybe in my opinion, this one means that the person is always alone[lonely bird],highly capable of doin almost everything in remarkable result['' flying high'',he has a wing(talent)which can make it fly so high in the sky(remarkable),he doesnt hav many friends[the lonely bird doesnt need friends],he can live on his own without depending too much on human[he doesnt even seek others of his kind],he seems hard to understand and rarely shows his emotion[he is without colour], as the person found and reach the top goal and happiest thing(talent&solitary's riddle) in his life with a very very great talent[as his beak towards the heaven,he is glad and found it good to enjoy his solitary life with a given talented[he sings a gentle song].