Friday, April 17, 2009

Enjoying Alone

As I promised myself, I went out to take advantage of a glorious day, the flowering trees abundant with white/pink/ greenish blossoms in Riverside Drive park and down along the river as well. I walked alone, enjoying trees, sun, river, flowers, others doing their things [many people grooming their dogs today]. The chattering monkeys of the mind were busy -- I keep thinking I'll learn to focus through meditation but I procrastinate. So the monkeys are loose and noisy. Still walking alone is wonderful, one does see more, feel more, experience more, I think, alone although I've certainly enjoyed walks taken with other people. The monkeys were busy remembering many times and places when I walked alone -- in parks, in city or village streets, in forests, in deserts, on high Himalayan plateaux. So many, many good, good memories walking with me under the flowering trees.

I traveled with a group of 14 in Peru in April a few years ago. At the goodbye dinner one of the men said to the group, "Tell me your most vivid moment." His was when he chose not to go white water rafting but, with 2 or 3 others was taken to the terminus in a van and left alone to wander a town and then walk to the river to meet us. Mine was waking very early to get the first shuttle up to Macha Pichu where I walked through the morning mists alone except for a grazing alpaca and some birds I did not recognize pecking their breakfast along the ancient stone walkway. From the high point I reached I could look down on the great complex and into the misty mountains beyond. Everyone at the table mentioned moments like the questioner's and mine, moments when they ventured somewhere alone. Even in group travel there are hours of free time. In a foreign country those walks in unfamiliar places become acutely etched in our minds. Many of them came to me as I walked today.

Often people say, Oh, I would go out if I had someone to go the park with me, if my children were not in school we could go to the river and play in the sand, if, if, if -- but I don't want to go alone, so I'll finish this job, wash the windows, plant the garden. Not to be morbid, but who knows if they will be here to enjoy next spring? And why do you need someone? The joy is in you. Sit for a while on a bench as I just did and watch the old dog carefully lower himself to a lying position, watch the bikers go whizzing by and wonder if they are enjoying it, listen to the children in the playground shouting. And, wonderful -- but only here, as far as I know -- look at the glorious community garden and hear an Amtrak train rumbling northward, a few feet below -- for all of Riverside Park lies atop the train tracks -- a blessing I think we owe to Robert Moses if I have my history straight. But the sun and the blue sky and the pleasant wafting of breeze we owe to Mother Earth herself. A beautiful day.

1 comment:

Helen Conway said...

Oh I so agree - on our first trip away together Dennis was very worried that he had upset me when I said I was going to sit on a Cypriot beach alone for a while one evening. He had done nothing at all but I just wanted to listen to the sea without any distractions and feel the air on my face. Solitude is a greta thing - een now when I am working away I like to wander a city by my self just looking and thinking.