Is there sentiment in solitude? Author Steven Pressfield notes that ‘the artists journey is solitary. The work of the artist takes place […] inside their head. You, the artist, are alone in that space. There is no one in there but you’.
There is a somewhat ominous feeling to Pressfield’s commentary and Gabrielle Bellot, writing in the New York Review of Books continues this sense of unease. ‘In the aloneness of poetry, Elizabeth Bishop found a place to quiet old screams’. Hmmm, thoughts coloured by emotion.
Both Pressfield and Bellot acknowledge that there is an aloneness aspect to being an artist so I look to the philosopher and theologian Paul Tillich to add a more positive perspective to the conversation. "Our language has wisely sensed the two sides of being alone. It has created the word ‘loneliness’, to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word ‘solitude’ to express the glory of being alone".
Ah…the glory of being alone! That more accurately describes the sentiment I attach to the solitude required by my artistic journey. Solitude calls me, with a visceral power. “It’s time for some aloneness”. And so, I go: for a few breaths, a few hours, or a few days, nature and I, one on one. Gloriously alone and grounded in the here and now, my spirit, my energy, flows. All I need do is relax, breathe and slip into the moment. I feel the magic and the connection tingles and is complete. And when that happens, it’s so amazing that right away, I want to talk about it, I want to tell someone, I want to share the experience. And that’s the paradox of solitude and the gift of the artist’s journey. Sharing is hard coded into our DNA.