Reflections on Thoreau’s Solitude
The best time for solitude exists in those few minutes between wakefulness and sleep. The best time for company exists just prior to the best time for solitude, with friends, family, or lovers, talking about the ills of the world or the triumphs of the day. So it goes throughout the day, solitude interwoven with human interaction.
Upon waking solitude agrees with the spirit not only for fear of morning breath, but to allow the shaking off of sleep and the collection of thoughts.
Once awake, fully conscience and with a plan for the day, eating breakfast with loved ones and perhaps being used or using them as a sounding board for ideas that sprung during the night, allows better comprehension of partially formed ideas. Then it is time to review the work form yesterday, ensuring its validity with fresh eyes, and luxuriating in the quietness needed for such contemplative activities. It is seldom completely quiet; the sixty cycles per second hum of a distant generator, the movement of cars and people, the chirp of a bird, or the clank of a dish often enter the mind and compete with the words from a passive page.
Traveling from home to campus gives a strange mixture of solitude and human association. If no one says a greeting, or discusses a class, then the mind can wander to any of a series of diverse topics. The shapes of buildings, trees, and the combination of the natural with the man-made filter through broad-seeing eyes and generate consideration of human advancement and human failure. Would Thoreau ever be happy with such a visual cacophony? Would man ever advance from mud huts had they not come together and planned and conceived of the society that would best suit their needs and desires?
Solitude loses completely to the press of social and intellectual activity during the working day. Classes give a method to approach the complexities of life. They give tools to dissect the problems that plague the world, and gives thoughts on the usefulness of those tools. These forums show the diversity of human intellect and the need to have thoughts clash against ideas from peers and simpletons alike. These daily events coincide well with their noise and confusion. Learning should be accompanied with the crush of company and the din of excited voice reaching several conclusions at the same time. The voices speak of everything from “the book” to “the game”, from “the girl” to “the party” and refuse the mind’s desire for peaceful review of the day’s assignment.
Finally the hubbub dissipates in the crowded library. Once again, like the walk to campus, the mind can wander amidst the press of people. This mixture of solitude with humanity does not allow the complete reduction of the world to a single spot like the moment before sleep, but it feels comforting and safe to be among individuals with common goals and sentiments. Companionship grows with the shared silence of focused minds. The problems of physics, history, mathematics, philosophy, and literature, all fall to the unceasing onslaught of the thoughts generated from the tomes resting quietly on the shelves and desks.
Back at home, dinner, and homework assignments gradually separate the mugging on the senses from the hungry soul. The light comes on, the computer comes outs and the world goes away. The tapping of the keyboard in a quiet room gives homage to the day’s events. This too allows a decompression of the spirit and the knowledge that this simple act, writing, will become better over time. The vital tool for communication needs practice and each word on the page reinforces the validity of complete solitude. The writing allows the formation of clean thoughts, but sometimes becomes hurried to be again in company and the second best part of the day.
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Reflections on Thoreau’s Solitude. (2016, Nov 18). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/reflections-on-thoreaus-solitude/