‘What on earth are you wearing today?!’ I froze by the door of the classroom I just entered, attempting to make myself smaller and less in the spotlight as I was running late for my Russian literature class. For an eighth grader growing up in Ukraine I was tall and too curvy for a twelve year old, as puberty graced me much earlier than my female counterparts.
“What a strange thing!
to be alive
beneath cherry blossoms.”
― Kobayashi Issa
It was quiet, save for a hint of tiny raindrops brushing down onto the delicate cherry blossom petals as they fell to the earth. At seven am in the Quad of the University of Washington there was no one but photographers around. I counted four of us total. Who else would get up at an ungodly hour only to record the short life of these blossoms on a digital sensor in our cameras?
Today is a rather dreary day in Seattle – dark skies, an almost constant downpour of chilly droplets from the sky and the ever-present color gray. I suppose this is how Seattle got its reputation. But days like today don’t tempt me into depressing gloom. Days like today are my most productive days.
I was raised by a single mother, and my household was home to several more women from the immediate and extended family. There were no men. Every one of us, in our own way, were the bring-home-the-bacon gals. My definition of a woman was formed based on my hardworking mother: a strong, proud and self-sustaining woman ready to conquer the world.
Everybody needs a vacation. Even if for a few days, it is so important to be able to get away, recharge your batteries and rejuvenate. As my quick getaway from Seattle I chose to visit a dear friend in San Francisco whom I haven’t seen in about a year.
Today my husband and I are celebrating our two year wedding anniversary. As a present to ourselves we planned a mini getaway to Cannon Beach, Oregon for the weekend. The weather promised to be absolutely lovely, the drive only 4 hours from Seattle, and the location – one of the most romantic spots close by.
On Thursday morning my friend and I set out West to hike in the Olympic National Park and spend our very first night camping on Second Beach in Washington, on the beautiful coast of the Pacific Ocean.
I was recently walking on one of Seattle’s lovely beaches during the low tide. It has left the beach looking abandoned, with a number of sea creatures struggling to survive the sudden dry land they found themselves upon. I saw sea stars that crumbled up and dried out, I saw a number of little fish that did not return to the water to get another breath of air. There was a feeling of sadness and a bit of despair, seeing these creatures suffer through one of Mother Nature’s flows.
fear * fi(ə)r/ * noun – an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.
You know the definition of fear, you have felt it many times before. Your palms get sweaty, your breathing becomes more rapid, your heart is pounding in your chest. You feel like your vision is sharper, yet everything around you is blurred, moving in slow motion. You are paralyzed with fear.
We all enjoy good company. Whether it is engaging in an interesting conversation over a delicious meal, enjoying a board game with family or the bond of friendship we feel while laughing together with our best friends, it is a fact that socializing has many benefits.
But today I would like to sing praise to the opposite of socializing and talk about the beauty of solitude. If the world alone sends you running for the hills, be mindful that here I am using a simple noun not the feeling its appearance invokes in many people. I am describing a state whereas a person is simply without anyone else present. That person doesn’t have to lonely to be alone. Do you see?