Solitude, the state of being alone, can be a treasure or a torment.
A few months ago, my days were filled with human interaction, juggling priorities, and deadlines associated with work. Solitude was a rare jewel. Today, after a layoff, I spend hours alone researching employers and scanning dozens of job announcements in hopes of finding a few relevant positions to apply for. Solitude is a guest who has overstayed its welcome.
I am doing my best to keep isolation at bay and my spirits high as I seek a new job. Several times a week, I meet colleagues and connections over coffee hopeful that someone can lead me to my next job.
But all work and no play makes Jane a dull and unhealthy girl, so I also make time for walks, bike rides and other activities that get me out of the house and interacting with others.
Taking advantage of my midweek freedom, I recently hiked Rattlesnake Ledge. Located less than 45 miles from Seattle, Rattlesnake Ledge is a hugely popular hiking destination and the parking lot often overflows on weekends. It’s the kind of trail I usually avoid.
On this weekday morning, I arrived to find a dozen cars parked at the trailhead. I found a vantage point by the lake to scope out my destination. There was no sign of the usual parties of hikers scrambling along the rocky ridge that one can normally spot from below.
I started up the trail, climbing the long switchbacks through the woods and glimpsing intermittent views of Rattlesnake Lake below. Only an occasional hiker was seen or heard and, when I scrambled out onto the ledge, I found it quiet and largely unoccupied. This is the way to experience the outdoors, I thought to myself as I soaked up the territorial views. Solitude was a welcome companion again.