Solitude

Alone one is never lonely: the spirit adventures, waking
In a quiet garden, in a cool house, abiding single there;

There is no place more intimate than the spirit alone:
It finds a lovely certainty in the evening and the morning.

– Canticle 6, May Sarton

Among the first questions people ask when learning I’m a solo nomadic is “Don’t you get lonely?” or “How do you cope with loneliness?”

Truth is, I only think about these concepts when someone asks about them, so for me it’s a “no” to both questions. To understand my response, you need to know I’m a natural introvert who’s learned to be an extrovert on demand. When interactions overload the senses, then I need space and quiet to reflect and think, to be alone.

For someone like me, solo traveling in my RV is an ideal lifestyle, one where I can occasionally enjoy face-to-face socializing yet on the whole, have plenty of alone time to reflect, to write, to think. When living in a city, this seemed only possible when retreating inside of a house’s four walls. In my rolling RV home, I can move on down the road or find a secluded camp site in nature and spend hours or days in solitude.

Exploring Hueco Tanks State Park, Texas

Probably the least understood need by introverts is for time alone. Often judged as unsociable or unfriendly, it’s really how we recharge our batteries so we can endure (and mostly enjoy) encounters and interactions with others. One good example happens during Travato meet ups (a three+ day get together of Travatos anywhere from six vans to a hundred or more), the Travato tribe accepts it if one occasionally retreats to the van for several hours versus hanging out constantly around the fire, on the porch, or wherever the active social circle. This behavior, at least in my experience, is not as accepted in the business world, thus the need for introverts to develop the ability to toggle extrovert mode on demand, akin to role playing or method acting I suppose.

The reality of today’s connected world means none of us are truly alone. Most introverts I know, including myself, engage in online conversations and those seem to exist in our introverted worlds somewhere between in-person socializing and being alone: not as potentially draining as being with people, yet not as isolated as solitude when there’s no internet connection.

But here’s the part some people struggle to see as positive about introverts traveling solo: you are the only decider on where to go, stay, see, or do. As the old saying goes, you are both chief and head bottle washer: decisions and how to spend time are all yours (for good or bad!). Traveling with a companion is more about ongoing compromises and there’s nothing wrong with that if one needs that constant companionship.

So when others ask these questions, I smile and say “Not really,” when I’m actually thinking “How could I be, when I go and do where and what I want and have all this nature around me to commune in introspection and quiet solitude.” As Sarton said, being alone is never lonely for those that embrace a free spirit.

Birds ‘n Beer

While browsing through my digital photo albums this weekend, I noticed a lot of attempts to capture our feathered friends doing bird-like things, which is not an easy task. As I was trying to create a montage picture during a brief trip to our island (Galveston), I inadvertently captured a nosy crow in flight. My original intention was to collect the beer, Moleskine/pen, crow sitting on the rail, a bit of ocean and palm trees, with Galveston’s scandalous Flagship Hotel as a backdrop. As serendipity would have it, the picture didn’t work as far as a collage, but to my later surprise I managed to catch the crow in mid flight. I couldn’t have done that if I tried, so it was a nice surprise when I finally got home and reviewed my shots on the big monitor.

What I didn’t catch here was the fat pigeon I made friends with while feeding him/her underneath my table with bits of crackers and rice. There were signs everywhere on the upper deck of Fishtales, a great Galveston eatery, asking patrons not to feed the birds (for obvious good reasons). But, being the rebel I am and unable to resist sad pigeon eyes, I slipped the little guy some tasty morsels and he hung around my table throughout lunch (gee, I wonder why. :smile:)

The rest of the photos in this toss-up post today are just a rag-tag assortment of birds I’ve captured in the past but haven’t had a reason to use. In most cases they’re adapting well to man’s environment while occasionally dissing us royally by sitting on our symbolic heads, etc. In all cases these are everyday birds, the commoners of the winged set. It’s easy to take pictures of peacocks or brilliant male cardinals and have a photo with a high oooh factor. I think it’s a much more interesting (and challenging) task to try and capture shots of common birds interacting with man’s world and adapting as only birds can.

Livingston’s Nature

A few nature moments from the trip made last week to Livingston, Texas and the adjacent Sam Houston National Forest on a glorious spring-break day. Enjoy!


Cabin at Double Lake Recreational Area.

 


Quick, blind, macro shot of something that was a-stirring in the bushes…stuck my camera over the branch and snapped, not knowing what I’d catch. Lucky shot!

 


Hiking trail resident, or, The Archanid Diner.

 


Signs of spring were everywhere, and this is an example of that wonderful new-growth shade of green that rewards the patient hiker.

 


At first glance, an innocuous sign…but check out the moose! Last time I checked, Bullwinkle & Co. preferred the lakes of northern climes more than our summer heat.

Postcards from a Blogger

rainforest-thumb.jpgIt’s always good to meet up with old friends (“old” meaning an indicator of time known). And it’s always interesting to spend time with people face-to-face that you spend time with exclusively from a distance. Like old pen pals of letter writing days long past, the new world of bloggers offers the opportunity to gain intellectually based friendships and then ultimately meet in person, only to find it out of sync to know someone so well but struggling to recognize them on the street! Contrast that to people you know in person but don’t really know what makes them tick: you could pick them out in a crowd but could you predict how they think, what makes them jazzed about life, or whether you could trust them with your secrets?

The whole subject of bloggers who meet online and ultimately connect in person is fascinating but hardly new, yet the mechanism seems different. With bloggers there is a body of work: their views about themselves and the world around them. Unless the writer is the cleverest of cons it would be hard to keep up appearances over time and not provide the reader with a sense of who the blogger truly is and whether he or she is…well, something other than an ax-murderer sociopath. Not that I’ve read the blogs of such evil doers before, but…

What blogging provides that simple emailing and occasional letter writing does not, is that sinfully voyeuristic look-in-the-picture-window view of our lives. Through our blog writings people can hear who we are and what makes us tick; what we like and where we’d like to go; and in ever-surprising spurts of revelations how we hurt and would like to love. I started blogging as an exercise to accelerate my writing beyond the bland–yet profitable–world of business writing. I’m always marveling at how much I’ve been willing to share of a nature that previously I might not have even told one person much less blindly posted for the world to see. Something about having an audience yet having no tangible, obvious audience frees us to blather about things we secretly want to share but typically don’t. Dangerous, but cathartic.

Anyway, and “old” friend popped down for a long Veteran’s Day weekend to escape the descending cold of her New Hampshire home and to continue a long-standing off-and-on-again friendship we’ve had since the early 90s when we met online over talks about journaling. Since we both enjoy nature, it seemed natural to take advantage of a couple of special places near my haunt, namely the Galveston ferry and the Moody Garden’s Rainforest Pyramid. I’ve written about the ferry before, but this trip turned out more unique than any before. Whatever the reasons, we witnessed more porpoise than I’ve ever seen before on the brief ride back and forth across Galveston bay. There were so many to look at we couldn’t see them all, both of us simultaneously saying “Look!” while pointing in opposite directions.

rf-bird.jpgThe magic continued in the Rainforest Pyramid, as I was able to find the two elusive sloths that inhabit the pyramid, apparently the golden chalice of the experience. A guide we chatted with had been looking for the sloths all morning, and after us telling her we’d seen them and where, she scooted off in an excited hurry to find these elusive, yet incredible stationary, hairy creatures. (They were entwined with each other high up in one of the many lush trees near the entrance to the pyramid, looking more like someone emptied the lint from a large vacuum cleaner rather than the elusive prized residents of this amazing pyramid…and no, I couldn’t get a digipix that would prove we saw them.)

lori-ibis.jpgOn this particular day we lucked out and managed to go through the pyramid between groups of noisy schoolchildren thus enjoying the place to ourselves. I don’t know if it was my friend’s nature karma again or the absence of humans while we walked around, but the birds were as tame as house pets, evidenced by this pix of her trying to digicapture a scarlet ibis as one was stealthily checking her out! In some cases we had to stop walking or we might have stepped on some of the denizens of this man-made representation of Mother Nature’s rainforest, complete with waterfalls and faux sounds of frogs and nightlife. Ultimately though, we left, and the residents continued doing what they do well in their envied halcyon lives within the glass walls of Eden in Galveston.

So does this mean that I’ll embark on a quest to meet bloggers I read and correspond with? That is an interesting thought, not only from the perspective of a continued interest in seeing how people you know well at a words-only level match up with their flesh & blood personas, but also from a desire to converse with like-minded souls. Typically we all faithfully read those blogs which seem parallel or at least complementary to our own thoughts and views, so why wouldn’t one want to meet and permanently befriend these people? Would make for an interesting book sometime: “Bloggers I’ve Met” as well as being a cherished blogroll on the side. Who knows…it could happen. And funny I should mention this now, since I’m planning a trip to the northeast in December and by chance will meet up with a couple more bloggers of online-only acquaintance in New York City over the holidays. I expect it will be most interesting to measure them against their online personas…but then, they’ll be doing the same with me so I’d better watch my ps and qs until then!

Road Trip

roadtrip.jpgA long-time friend is coming into town tomorrow and I’m going to take some well-deserved (at least in my opinion!) time off from work and go on a little road trip to see the sights. While I’ll be in wireless touch during some of that time, I may not blog until next week. But I’ll have lots of pix from the long weekend to share and blather about, assuming the weather behaves and we see a bit of sunshine. A cold front is supposed to roll in on Thursday with a little rain and lots of clouds. The drop in temperature will be highly welcomed but it won’t make for digicam nirvana.

We originally talked about heading out to Lost Maples Natural Area, but I’m not ready for that many hours in a car! So instead we’ll take in some local goodies such as the Moody Gardens Aquarium Pyramid and Rainforest Pyramid, and hopefully (weather permitting) my beloved Texas Renaissance Festival (which sadly I haven’t been strong enough to go to yet this year, and most years I go 2-3 times). Regardless of what we end up doing it will be great to reconnect with an old friend, something I don’t do enough (who does?). See you on the other side.