Archive for December 30th, 2022

Quiet, Please


GC Myers- Sacred Solitude sm

Sacred Solitude— At Principle Gallery, Alexandria VA

Meditation is holy to me, for I believe that all the secrets of existence and nonexistence are somewhere in our heads—or in other people’s heads. “And I believe that reading and writing are the most nourishing forms of meditation anyone has so far found. By reading the writings of the most interesting minds in history, we meditate with our own minds and theirs as well. This to me is a miracle. The motto of this noble library is the motto of all meditators throughout all time: ‘Quiet, please.’ Thus ends my speech. I thank you for your attention.

~Kurt Vonnegut, Palm Sunday

I entered the phrase “songs about solitude” on Google yesterday and it came back with “songs about loneliness” on the search line above the results. It kind of bugged me because the two words, solitude and loneliness, are not synonymous. Not even close to my way of thinking. 

Maybe there just aren’t many songs about actual solitude. On the other hand, there are plenty about being lonely: Only the Lonely. Oh Lonesome Me. Are You Lonesome Tonight?, I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, and on and on. And that’s just off the top of my head. I am sure you can come up with many others pretty easily.

Nobody’s writing songs about being placid in their solitude. When you’re serene, you probably don’t feel the need.

I that know my compulsion to paint really decreases when I am close to feeling totally at peace. Not that I’ve had much experience with that. But when I am stressed and bothered, maybe even a little angry, I feel the need to paint the most. Some of my best work, in my opinion, has come from those times.

But even though the work might be great, the goal of working through those turbulent times is to get past them, to a place of solitude. A place of meditative stillness where one can read and think in the way Kurt Vonnegut describes in the passage at the top. It’s a weird give and take– you want to be at peace with yourself and create great work but the best work comes when you are not.

Right now? I am not exactly on that island of sacred solitude that appears at the top of the page. Roiled, flummoxed, and maybe even a little pissed. That might not sound great personally but from a creative standpoint, it’s pure rocket fuel. Just got to light that fuse.

Here’s a rare pop song about solitude. You can find more classical compositions dealing with silence and serenity pop or rock songs about it are hard to find. This is the classic I Am a Rock from Simon & Garfunkel.  To be honest, this song is a Trojan Horse. It feels like it is about the beauty and power of solitude but it ends up being about the character in the song pretending to be fine with his isolation when, in fact, he is lonely. And somewhat emotionally stunted, to boot, not being able to cry or feel pain.

But even as Trojan Horse it is, it’s still a great song.

Now, quiet, please!

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