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  • In January 1965, I lived in a girls' dorm at Saint Lawrence University. Inside, it was overheated and full of drama. raging hormones and girls locked in without boys. These were my friends. But sometimes, I was oppressed by their omnipresence.

    I had purchased my first pair of snowshoes with the money my relatives had given me for Christmas. The snow in the North Country was too deep to walk through, but with the snowshoes, I could "walk on water." It wasn't as effortless as I imagined, but it was better than not being able to get out.
  • I went out the dorm window, the first of many times doing this. We were literally locked in, but I was not willing to play that game.

    I snowshoed out through the golf course, onto the frozen river, and miles out into the wilds alone in the winter snow.
  • I was ecstatic to be alone.
  • Completely alone . . .
  • in the dark
  • Suddenly, coyotes howled. Nearby, or so I thought, not understanding at the time how far over the snow the sound carried.
  • I was afraid.
  • I turned and headed back.
  • The going was easier, because I was no longer breaking trail, and could follow my own tracks.
  • When I reached the golf course, I could see the buildings of campus, and I felt both relief and sorrow.
  • I went in to the dorm and locked myself in one of the stalls in the bathroom--the only place I could be even a little bit alone, and I wrote in my journal about the balance between solitude and companionship. I wrote a series of three poems about the experience. I had an epiphany that night.
  • It's an obvious one, I suppose, about the need for solitude and companionship, the need to balance these. I knew right then, at age 18, that it would be a challenge for me for the rest of my life.
  • Then I went back to my dorm room and sang with my girlfriends .

    Finding the right balance is difficult. The pendulum swings first one way and then the other. Currently, I have more solitude than companionship, most of the time. I need/we need engagement, challenge, stimulation, collaboration. We need people. And we need ourselves. Getting the best balance is definitely difficult, but worth the effort, creatively. And creativity feeds the soul.
  • This is a sprout from Alex's Writer's Lib #72, and her link, The #1 Habit of Creative People.

    image: collage from internet images. Digitally altered. (The super-quick coyote sketch is by me)

    I still have those old wooden snowshoes, and newer aluminum pair as well. But in Detroit, we rarely get enough snow to use them.
  • Oh, and the number one habit: Solitude.
  • The number two habit is engagement and human challenge. But you can read about it.
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