Solitude Is Not Loneliness

They are both about being alone, but the difference is a state of mind.

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According to merriam-webster.com:
Solitude (noun) is “a state or situation in which you are alone usually because you want to be.”

It defines
Lonely (adjective) as being “sad from being apart from other people.”

Language… has created the word “loneliness” to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word “solitude” to express the glory of being alone.
– Paul Tillich

Here are what some people, including a genius or two, have to say about the glory of being alone.

“Without great solitude no serious work is possible.”
– Pablo Picasso

“The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.”
– Albert Einstein

“The best thinking has been done in solitude.”
– Thomas Edison

In these times of rapid social changes, we can easily get detached and lonely, despite gadgets (and sometimes because of them) that are supposed to help us connect with others. As Henry David Thoreau said, “It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?”

In the song “Message in a Bottle,” Sting wrote of “a hundred billion bottles” with messages washed ashore and concluded “Seems I’m not alone at being alone, hundred billion castaways, looking for a home.”

“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.”
– Henry David Thoreau

Perhaps we should pay more attention to Solitude. In the silence, hear our inner voice, find our way when we feel we are lost, see and appreciate the poetry in the universe.

Solitude. What separates it from Loneliness is a State of Mind.

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Conversation Between a Golden Leaf and a Young Shoot

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“Hello there! What are you?”

“I’m a leaf, like you.”

“How come you look different? All my friends are like me. We are green, our skin is supple, and we are swaying with the wind. Your color is like the setting sun, your skin is wrinkled, and you seem stiff.”

“That’s because I’m an old leaf and you are young. My color is like this because I have been kissed by the sun so many times.”

“I love the sun! You mean to say you have seen the sun come up and come down a lot of times?”

“More than three hundred times.”

“Wow, that’s so cool! I can’t wait to see the sun come up and I have only seen it a few times.”

“You will see it many more times.”

“Cool! How come your skin is hard and you look stiff?”

“That’s because I had to become stronger so I could stand the days when the sun does not come out and the wind gets stronger.”

“You mean to say there’s danger?”

“Sometimes the sun does not shine, but we know it is always there. I am always thankful to see it again, like today.”

“So my friends and I will become like you?”

“Yes, those who get through the windy days.”

“Where are the rest of your friends?”

“They’ve gone back to the roots of this tree we all belong to.”

“Do you miss them?”

“My friends have done their part, they have nurtured the tree and now the tree has new shoots like you! They may even have become part of you and your friends.”

“So you will be gone too? I’m beginning to like you.”

“I’ve seen my season and I will soon join my friends.  For you and your friends, there’s a lot of sun ahead!”

“I can’t wait!”

“Keep reaching for the sky, enjoy the sun, and dance with the wind.”

“Thank you, old leaf.”

Seasons

Indonesian Shadow Puppet Meets Ebony Stickman from Africa

“The study of man is the study of his extensions.”
― Edward T. Hall, Beyond Culture

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Mementos from different cultures. What conversation are they having?

“The things we see are the same things that are within us. There is no reality except the one contained within us.”
– Hermann Hesse

Life Imitates Art

Accidental Impressionism

“I didn’t become an impressionist. As long as I can remember I always have been one.”
– Claude Monet

Impressionism, led by Claude Monet et al, developed partly as a reaction to photography, which could produce more “realistic” images. Artists dug deep and realized that there is something they could do better than photographs at that time — present a subjective view.

Painting and photography continued to develop as alternative artistic expressions. Today, a quick Google will show many good examples of Impressionist photography.

One thing that I admire about painters though is that they seem to conjure the image in their heads and put them into canvass as a pure creative act. Photographers still rely on the physical world. I’m sure good Impressionist photographers have mastered their techniques, but for most people, part of the process is the confluence of events, perhaps even chance.

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For me, definitely, these images are “accidental” in that they came from quick snaps from a moving vehicle. As a realistic representation of the scene they probably failed. At best these are poor attempts for the essence, the “impression” of colors or shapes that caught my attention, to get through despite the shake and blur. Or maybe the blur helped my poor attempts at life imitating art.

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One can always say, tongue-in-cheek, that accidental impressionism begins where image stabilization ends. But pursuing it can also be a worthwhile learning experience in artistic expression.

“Impressionism is the newspaper of the soul.”
– Henri Matisse

(Photos were taken during a trip to Warrook Farm near Melbourne.)

(More info on Impressionism here.)

Life Imitates Art

Time and Tide Wait for No Man, or How to Lose Your Watch

“Time and tide wait for no man.”
– old English proverb.

I was absorbed in making this photo, focusing on the watch on the rocks with the ocean and sunset in the background.
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I looked up and made a quick snap of the sunset that was shaping up. (My lens was wet but I didn’t notice.)

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I knew that the tide was rising but didn’t expect the waves suddenly crashing on the watch. Time and tide didn’t wait, and didn’t give any warning either.

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Fortunately I was able to find the watch, almost buried in the sand.

It was then that I decided to focus on enjoying the sunset instead. It had different hues, including red on the clouds.

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I was grateful that I stopped to look at the sky, appreciate the moment, and see that sometimes “losing” one’s watch is not always a bad thing.

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Yes, time and tide wait for no man, but there’s nothing wrong with asking where they’re going.

And sometimes it’s fine to let them go ahead.

(On the island of Mindanao in the Philippines.)

(The proverb “time and tide wait for no man” is so old it dates back to old English when the word “tide” meant the same thing as time, or more precisely, it was a measure of time.
Find details on the origin and meaning of the proverb here.
There’s also an interesting discussion on the origin of the phrase “time and tide” here.)

Time

An Evening Stroll at the High Line in New York

One of the enjoyable things to do in New York is a walk through the High Line. It’s not long, less than 1 ½ miles of a disused railroad in Manhattan transformed into an elevated linear park and aerial greenway.

Its gardens are well-designed for appreciation by day, but an evening stroll gives a different perspective.

For instance, this mural by the Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra really shines at night with its vibrant colors as seen from the High Line.

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Alfred Eisenstaedt’s iconic black and white photo of a sailor kissing a nurse on V-J Day in Times Square is given a modern twist.

At the Urban Theater there are seats for watching, well, the city.

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Or one can simply watch people from above.

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The High Line Park has become popular for people in the neighborhood and visitors alike, and its success is considered a model for urban “gentrification.” An example of nature reclaiming part of the city to make it more habitable.

Needless to say, it is popular with photographers.

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The High Line has come a long way since the non-profit Friends of the High Line advocated its preservation and reuse as a park. It’s frequently on the list of “top things to do in New York.” An evening stroll adds a little bit more to the experience.

(More info on the High Line Park and Friends of the High Line.)

Vibrant