Two Worlds of Solitude

I grew up in a large family in the California suburbs during the 1960s and 70s, and I was never alone. A gaggle of siblings, neighborhood kids and the occasional adult, formed my constant environment. But my memory is different - I often FELT alone. These two pictures capture the two sides of this aloneness. Often the feeling was painful, as I was thrown back on myself in times of difficulty. The boy in exile with his work, hemmed in by those 60s golds, that recalls my isolation and helplessness with work, and schoolwork in particular. I was competitive with peers and brothers, and had anxiety to always be perceived as 'smart', yet did not learn habits of discipline, nor how to enjoy my many accomplishments.

The other photo - of a boy alone in a green field of long grass behind a house - evokes a far different aloneness, one that I cherished. Alone but often with others I'd make forays to the suburban fringe of creeks, reservoirs and watersheds. There I'd play imaginative games that took me to different times and places. It was not just the randomness and patterns of nature that were important, but also the music and pop tunes that would cycle through my head and voice like mantras, half-understood. Through these I found in myself reservoirs of meaning and feeling that are still there, but are too often buried...

The two forms of aloneness are with me still, and still struggle with one another within me. The struggle goes on...

submitted by Bill Tally
New York, New York USA
November 2000

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