Working in solitude forms the structure of my days. Researching , writing, editing, reading, coalescing research into papers, blog posts, Powerpoints, Haiku Decks, etc. by myself are the mosiac tiles of my scholarly life.
And while solitary, I’m not truly alone. My dogs occasionally saunter over, leaning against my legs, and receiving either a good scratch, or distracted pats. My cat glares at my laptop when it actually rests in my lap. The crows, doves, turkeys, hawks, and occasional owls call out as they wend to, around, and away from my house. Besides that, when I’m reading articles, or books, or web pages, I hear the author speaking in my head. (Some of them, become so loud that they compete with any music I may be playing; others say things so riveting that my attention narrows to just those words, thoughts, insights and all other sound slides away.
And yet, the longing for real live conversations, dialogue, spirited debate wells up inside me often, sometimes threatening to flood me unless I go out! Attending and presenting at the annual conference of the Pacific Northwest American Academy of Religions/Society of Biblical Literature/American Schools of Oriental Research, (PNW AAR/SBL/ASOR)thoroughly thrilled me.
My paper and presentation went terrifically well—with the boon of a great audience with excellent questions. Being in the company of other passionate scholars was delightful, fun, fun, fun, and affirming—akin to walking into an actual memory palace filled with treasures, trinkets, curiosity cabinets, and wide, wandering paths.
At times, I was so happy to be talking, sharing, listening with all this good company of kind and excellent scholars that I felt giddy (and oddly as though I was I wasn’t breathing air any longer, but helium with all it’s floaty, spacy, cartoon-like qualities). Or maybe that was the wine? . . .
It was all grand (except for the hotel room). Jazzed up with effervescent excitement from the conference and the good company, on Sunday I clambered back into the car to drive the nearly 500 miles back surrounded by beauty and solitude.