by Laura Bickle
I think that solitude is one of those things that people instinctively crave or avoid. I'm a craver, an avowed introvert. I can happily spend days without speaking to another human, focusing on this project or that project and letting the hours run together from dawn to dusk. I'm more productive when I have solitude, and more at peace.
It's funny. I intermittently attend a meditation class. I always find it more difficult to meditate in a group than in my own backyard, with the grass squished between my toes. Grass doesn't sigh, twitch, cough, or demand attention. Despite my teacher's discussions about energy and the interconnectedness of all things, I always find myself coming back to my own set point in solitude.
One of my favorite Tarot cards is the Hermit. It classically depicts an old man leaning on a walking stick, holding a lantern of illumination. The traditional meaning is about solitude, introspection, and keeping one's own counsel. The Hermit is also a man who searches for truth and wisdom, guided by the light of his lantern. He's on a journey by himself. He carries only what he needs with him, and he knows that he moves forward alone.
Maybe the Hermit's path to wisdom and enlightenment is the long, roundabout way. It's easier, I think, to ask questions and have someone give guidance. Put in the quarter and get what you want out of the vending machine of mysteries. But it does rob us of the work of walking the journey ourselves, with all the bumps and turns in the road.