The Fortress Of Solitude Revisited
I know that many of us do have that “fortress of solitude” that we escape to to try to steady ourselves when the tempestuous times of our lives buffet us. I am even tempted to say that maybe everybody has one, whether deliberately defined or unconsciously peered into as the self’s defense mechanism against the at times overwhelming rigors of daily living.
But it might be a worthwhile exercise for many of us to find out how indeed we develop and maintain that “fortress of solitude” that enables us to maintain an even keel and not be pushed off the precipice edging sanity into insanity.
The idyllic years of youth for most of us can be counted to yield the most nostalgic and soul-stirring experiences that continue to encumber and colonize the memories of adult life. We reminisce about the boundless energies exhibited by youthful bodies and minds, when we felt we could do everything that we put our minds to. The unfiltered and seemingly unparalleled joys of discovery of the many allures and wonders of the ever-growing world that was hurtling away from us. The unconditional love and attention liberally showered by the people who loved and cared for us as children and as adolescents. The boundless trust and confidence shared by youthful friends in many moments of unexplainable angst and exhilaration.
In this past universe, we sought to define the existential parameters where our youthful lives were spun. The unforgettable family house, most likely of humdrum quality and really quite congested, where the entire family gravitated and adeptly swiveled around trying to get out of each other’s ways. The family table where many a memorable meal and family tête-à-tête transpired without form or design. The shared and barely-appointed rooms whose walls literally had ears to broadcast any and all secrets. The many local places that became the special hangouts for idle times with friends and relatives. And the local school where many friends, relatives, and siblings all went to and vied to see who the smartest or dumbest were. And yes, the little tucked-away vacation spots, where good fun time could be had for almost next to a song, or at times even free because friends and relatives were that generous and giving.
In fine, we sought to define the house and its usually drab surroundings that was exquisite “home” to our careless youth’s simple treasures, but especially where the multifarious cares of the world were so distant as to be unreal. Where, in hindsight, we found ourselves at peace and in serene congruence with the world we knew.
Thus, when we feel the overpowering onus of life’s burdens crushing on frail shoulders, many of us do actually retrace those fading steps back to those halcyon days hoping to buy back relief and peace. Many of us do try to re-acquaint ourselves with the things that meant the world to us and which the harsh world of adulthood may have dulled or burnished over time. A close childhood friend, who was away from the old hometown for over 30 years practicing medicine abroad, inconspicuously resettled over 4 years ago and practically kept himself in seclusion apart from visits to the familiar haunts of his youth. A few months ago, we learned that he had died, from a lingering illness that he also hid practically to himself except to immediate members of his family. The trip back obviously did not cure his physical ailment, or even the heartaches that may have laden him, but what he got was the precious care that he needed to tide him over.
But then, many of us cannot take that trip back to our childhood places to get some relief. Or those childhood places may actually be no more. So, what does one access to get some instant relief?
The present community we live in? The new loving friends we have collected? Or the good people at work?
But seeking the comforting shelter of “home” during a restless or stormy night may not be all that easy. However, a trusted friend may be available even during odd hours, or a “new” family who may have replaced the family of youth and thus, may provide the ever-available access or that special place to lay one’s head for a time. Of course a spiritual person may find that solace in prayer or meditation. But times will come, when no relief will make an appearance, and we may just have to rely on our own “sterner stuff” to steady our fraying nerves till the whole thing blows over and calm is restored.
Or it could simply be an inspiring book to read. Books that provide one with the vital roadmaps in negotiating through the “vale of tears” and guide one in traversing through by exploiting the authors’ own life experiences in handling chaos in their own lives.
Yes, seek ye your own “fortress of solitude”.
For life is not just . . . a job for Superman!