solitude in the winter woods


I have always been drawn to images depicting solitude. From lonely leaves to our individualistic awe of sublime nature, it’s a perspective that I like to visit over and over. Automat by Edward Hopper has been my favorite painting ever since I came across it about 10 years ago. The woman in the painting is unabashedly alone, although the mood is ambiguous. Is she lonely? Is she content? Is she coming from somewhere? Or going?

I feel a bit odd and even guilty for contemplating and seeking solitude right now. There is an undeniable, aching physicality in my desire to be alone. First thing Saturday morning I set off into the woods to not talk or see anyone but the birds, squirrels, and my dog.

The sun imbued the landscape in a soft, grey light as winter clouds rolled past. I heard chickadees, woodpeckers, and found some porcupine tracks. Solstice ran ahead on the trail during my frequent stops to snap photos.

Meanwhile, millions of women choose the opposite of solitude and joined together to march in cities around the world. I don’t know if I have the words to make sense of why I didn’t want to march, even locally. If I’m being honest, these images don’t fill my heart with hope for our future, like they should. Although I am thankful for what my friends and sisters on this earth showed the world yesterday, I am fighting against a dark, critical, cynical space in my heart. In the darkness there is resentment, anger, fear, frustration, blame, privilege, and impatience. A year ago I would have fought you fiercely to convince you we had every reason to be hopeful. I’m in a very different place now, but today is the beginning of my journey back to the fight. And if I need some solitude in the woods to get there, so be it.

Here’s 10 actions for 100 days. Also on my reading list for 2017: Slow Democracy (Think globally, act locally) and Big Magic (Create art, change the world). On my watch list: Equal Means Equal (plus any other media directed/written by women and other marginalized groups).

Lastly, I want to share an excerpt from this blog post from activist brittany t. oliver. Please visit her site and read her thoughts on “What’s Next?”

“Overall beautiful people, if you want to march to represent inclusion, by all means, stand in your truth. But afterwards, if the current social, political and economic state and conditions of Black people continue, be bold enough to stand up and say enough is enough because you know what’s real outside of the catchy buzzwords and phrases that claim we are all the same. In theory we are, but our current laws, systems and institutions prove otherwise. That’s it. No magic. No tricks.”



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