There is a train that speeds past the front end of the Villa de Zoysa property in south western Sri Lanka several times over the day and night. Over the three occasions that I have stayed at Villa de Zoysa, each time for a two-week retreat, I have not ever worked out what the exact timetable of this train is. Of course there is one, but I must say that I have noted anything from a 10minute interval in the morning, to long stretches for hours and hours of silence over another morning.
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When deciding on how to best spend my time, I often ask myself to isolate what my purpose is, with the intention to then set out tasks that are in line with this. Seemingly such a clear and obvious path, and yet, this often leads me to want to spend more time writing, reading, training in line with copy writing and editing. But then also yoga! Everything to do with sharing yoga. And painting! And artistic expression in general. But, then I think, wait, I studied my ass off for years for a PhD in History, so shouldn’t I be working on post-doc fellowships and research proposals …
American writer and poet, Donald Hall, wrote a melancholic, self-reflective essay in The New Yorker late last year titled, “Between Solitude and Loneliness”. He writes about his solitary life on an isolated farm he has inherited from his late grandmother. He is in his late eighties at the time, a widower with little contact to the outside world other than through his craft, and a weekly visit from a housekeeper. He is perfectly content. He looks back on his life in this essay to unearth and then ponder over a succession of circumstances in which he has cherished and sought solitariness.