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  • Linda Odhner, with photos by Liz Kufs

Excerpted Inspirations #41


"As far as the search for solitude is concerned, we live in a negative atmosphere as invisible, as all pervading, and as enervating as high humidity on an August afternoon. The world today does not understand, in either man or woman, the need to be alone.


"How inexplicable it seems. Anything else will be accepted as a better excuse. If one sets aside time for a business appointment, a trip to the hairdresser, a social engagement, or a shopping expedition, that time is accepted as inviolable. But if one says: I cannot come because that is my hour to be alone, one is considered rude, egotistical, or strange. What a commentary on our civilization, when being alone is considered suspect; when one has to apologize for it, make excuses, hide the fact that one practices it -- like a secret vice!


"Actually these are some of the most important times in one's life -- when one is alone. Certain springs are tapped only when we are alone. The artist knows he must be alone to create; the writer, to work out his thoughts; the musician, to compose; the saint, to pray. But women need solitude in order to find again the true essence of themselves: that firm strand which will be the indispensable center of a whole web of human relationships. She must find that inner stillness which Charles Morgan describes as 'the stilling of the soul within the activities of the mind and body so that it might be still as the axis of a revolving wheel is still.'


"This beautiful image is to my mind the one that women could hold before their eyes. This is an end toward which we could strive -- to be the still axis within the revolving wheel of relationships, obligations, and activities. Solitude alone is not the answer to this; it is only a step toward it, a mechanical aid, like the 'room of one's own' demanded for women, before they could make their place in the world. The problem is not entirely in finding the room of one's own, the time alone, difficult and necessary as this is. The problem is to still the soul in the midst of its activities. In fact, the problem is how to feed the soul."


-Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea, "Moon Shell," pp. 50-51

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