Yesterday was a busy day and I spent most of it around people: singing for Mass, lunch with choir friends, singing at a wedding, singing at Evensong. There were perhaps two hours in between the wedding and Evensong, and I decided to take an introvert break: I snuck out and sat quietly behind the Cathedral, overlooking Cathedral park and the mouth of the river, and the silence was like a balm to my spirit which is what made me realise how desperately I needed the introvert break.
At first I thought I was alone, but then I started noticing. Here are just some of the things that I noticed:
~ two red-bottomed sugar ants.
~ one large black ant.
~ two orange-and-black insects which were mating, back to back. The smaller one was being dragged backwards after its larger companion. I wondered which was the male and which the female. With mammals, it’s normally the male which is the larger, but in the bug world it’s a bit harder to tell.
~ one orange-and-blue insect with white tips at the very ends of its antenna, and an incredible capacity for stillness.
~ one fly – not a blowfly – which discovered and feasted on my discarded strawberry head.
~ one ladybug wandering around.
~ one very small spider.
And larger lives, too: the wattlebird which misjudged its landing on a slender branch, crashing down through several layers of foliage with the slap of feather on leaves before it was able to catch its progress and right itself; two plovers riding the air currents above Cathedral park, crying their sharp, almost mournful alarm cry; a single lorikeet, fearing with uncharacteristic silence on a single bottlebrush blossom. One crested pigeon, which walked past me like a bird with somewhere important to be.
To say nothing of the larger – in size, if not importance – lives which surrounded me: the souls on board the two cargo ships which entered the river with stately grace while I watched; the myriad of individuals who populate the city spread out beneath me, a thousand thousand interweaving stories. The people in the Cathedral behind me, friends, people I love and who love me, and whose stories I am a part of.
I craved solitude yesterday and although I found quiet I did not find true solitude. I found a multiplicity of life, a million stories – human, animal, insect, atomic – woven together, more alike than different: each creature a fragment of the Sacred, a tiny piece of worth. Each creature a part of my story, and I a part of theirs.
So much for solitude.