Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Day Thirty-one

Originally from here.

There's something appealing about secrets and solitude. Keeping secrets is a great habit of mine, maybe almost to the point of vice - I would say it's been to my detriment in the past. The things that touched me the most, that I was attracted to, things that I thought were most beautiful - I always kept that to myself. That was the only way to protect them, and myself. Unfortunately, that means I was never really able to explore them in a meaningful way at the time, I could only admire them; read about them, listen and look when no one was around, but not appear to others to have a great interest.

Having a secret is, for me, like breathing some vitality into life. While I wasn't born looking to cultivate secrets, over the years I've come to appreciate and then enjoy what they are. Secrets are self-indulgent and very fragile, and must be treated with care. Their nature seems somewhat ambivalent - most people think having any sort of secret is like lying, that you must be hiding something bad or be doing something wrong. That's not entirely the case; sometimes, like me, you look to have secrets to fill your solitude.

Master of the Universe, grant me the ability to be alone.
May it be my custom to go outdoors each day among the trees and grasses,
Among all growing things,
There to be alone and enter into prayer.
There may I express all that is in my heart,
Talking with Him to whom I belong.
And may all grasses, trees and plants
Awake at my coming.
Send the power of their life into my prayer,
Making whole my heart and my speech through the life and spirit of growing things,
Made whole by their transcendent Source.
Oh! That they wound enter my prayer!
Then would I fully open my heart in prayer, supplication and holy speech;
Then, O God, would I pour out the words of my heart before Your Presence.

Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav

Solitude is by no means intrinsically bad; in fact, I enjoy it when I am alone, either in my apartment or in a crowd. Especially in a crowd, it provides a certain freedom. You are at your most natural when you aren't putting on a show for friends. Not that I don't enjoy my friends; each thing in moderation, I'd say. I have fond memories of being alone as a child, playing by the pond near my house, or daydreaming about the things I secretly liked. This makes me wonder, if I wouldn't have had a richer, more fulfilling childhood actually pursuing these things, or if they just would have lost their beauty once they turned from a daydream to tedious, repetitive actuality. So secrets are, in the end, a little bittersweet.

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