Far From Nothingness

We write in order to share, for one thing–to share ideas, discoveries, emotions. Alone, we are close to nothing. In prolonged solitude, as I’ve discovered, we come very close to nothingness. Too close for comfort. Through the art of language, most inevitable of the arts–for what is more basic to our humanity than language?–we communicate to others what would be intolerable to bear alone. –Edward Abbey, Abbey’s Road 1979

I read this passage over the summer and it has continued to resonate since. Admittedly when I first read it, I shared it with a sweetheart who had just moved to Hawaii to work aboard fishing boats as encouragement to him to write me letters lest he wanted his solitude to bring him close to nothingness. While Abbey’s and my encouraging words didn’t quite fill my mailbox, since quitting my job in September I now find myself spending the majority of my time by myself whether working on projects around my house or going on day-time adventures.

It’s not that I’m uncomfortable being alone; on the contrary, these past few months I’ve realized that, in fact, I need a lot of time to myself. Yet, my need to share–most recently, through this blog– stems from Abbey’s sentiment, “We write in order to share, for one thing–to share ideas, discoveries, emotions.”

Though, to take it one step further, I communicate my experiences to those around me not only to share, but to grow. Additionally, sharing these experiences allow me a base for self-reflection grounded in those around me. In the instance of this blog, the process I undergo when I write a new post takes me from the experience as I lived it, to evaluating the experience in terms of the self-reflection I want to share with others.

It’s because of this, that most of the posts I’ve written about in this blog are reflections of time spent alone. Likewise, it’s also why I haven’t spent time blogging during the trips I’ve taken these past few months, most recently the month I just spent in California.

That said, I wouldn’t want to disappoint so here are some of the highlights from the trip in order of the pictures above:

Pictures 1 & 2) Joshua Tree National Park: One of the most beautiful places I’ve even been and some of the best company I could have asked for!

3) Musee Mecanique: A nickle arcade with hundreds of ancient games. Erik and I spent a rainy afternoon playing games and then after explored Green Apple books, a bookstore on par with Milwaukee’s Downtown books, yet organized!

4) Baker Beach: While Joshua Tree was freezing cold, San Francisco was amazingly sunny and in the 70s most days. Locals still walked around with down coats but that didn’t stop me from wearing skirts without tights and tank tops everyday and enjoying the company of friends from the sand of Baker’s Beach, a sunny park bench or from the top of one of SF’s crazy hills. On this day in particular Erik, Tim and I biked down to Baker Beach and met up with Murray, Jackie and a number of Jackie’s friends. In addition to finding out the end nearest the bridge is a nude beach, I found out the spot all the picture-perfect postcards of the Golden Gate bridge are taken.

Pictures 5 & 6) Half Moon Bay: Linda, Shana and I treated ourselves to an over-night away from SF in which to talk business and just enjoy each others company. On the business end, we decided that we are going to start our own consulting business specializing in event planning, trainings, facilitation, conference logistics and catering. We made sure all the work we did was well balance with play and in the course of just two days went to two wineries, two beaches, a few different trips to the hotel hot tub. We also decided our next planning retreat shall be in Baja, Mexico!

Pictures 7 – 10) The Albany Landfill is an amazing, inspiring place on par with Dr. Evermore’s Forevertron here in Wisconsin for those of you familiar. For history of the place, check out the Defend the Landfill Freestate in Slingshot’s 76th issue. As, I always make an effort to visit the place when I’m in the Bay area, I convinced Murray to join me in the adventure. We picnicked on the shore overlooking the bay from a pile of gratified debris, played on a homemade tetter-totter, and explored the other unforetold wonders.

11) My whip for the month, an old Schwinn cruiser with double-wide rear basket. Oh yeah.

Not pictured were perhaps some of the best times, those when my friends and loved ones weren’t doing anything particularly noteworthy–making dinner together, catching up over coffee, cuddling in the morning, reading on sunny porches. So it’s true that I didn’t do all the touristy things others would have done, but I wouldn’t have done it any other way.

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One response to “Far From Nothingness

  1. Shea,
    Charlie and I were both quite moved by the Abbey quote and by your thoughtful entry today. Being good at being by yourself is a real skill; not everyone does it willingly or well. Confronting and becoming comfortable with your own self builds inner resources. I love reading your blog because you give those of us who love you a glimpse at what goes on in that big heart of yours. Keep blogging!
    Love, mom

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