(Bautista, Personal Photograph Edinburgh, Scotland, 2007)
I found this thesis entry from 2003:
From almost any piece of literature I have ever read, any film I have ever seen, any song I have ever listened to, I am convinced that the protagonist, like me, is on a quest of knowing how s/he fits into our world. Characters from the arts, from time, from life —all are searching out places and spaces of belonging whether it is to a specific people, group or community. I believe that there is a universal quest to find out how and why we belong.
Northrop Frye (1963) offers imaginative possibilities of exploring notions of human identity. As Frye writes “…the story of loss and regaining of identity is, I think, the framework of all literature” (p.21). Life is a constant negotiation of self in terms of adapting to different social settings. In any given situation or institution, we want to know how to fit, how to blend or how to adapt. In most cases, if we do not assimilate, then the self becomes outcast, feels alone or is excluded. The self is subjected to societal judgments, to abandonment, perhaps, to feelings that individuality or difference means isolation.
As I look back on this piece from almost 10 years ago, I still agree with what I was thinking but my feelings have changed because I’ve changed. I’m older now and maybe not much wiser but what I do know is that if you don’t live the life you are given then life is empty. I’ve realized that people want to frame you or compartmentalize you – in other words, they want you to live life the way they believe you should based on their preconceptions.
I’m here to tell you, ten years later, that I will never have the life that people want me to lead. I will have the life I’m meant to and that means teaching mindfully and living quietly. And that is not isolation, it is solitude. A huge difference.
I ventured to the Great Wall of China this past summer. I walked the wall alone in solitude.
It was a joyful experience and I haven’t been able to put my finger on why it was so uplifting. And that’s just fine.
I believe that’s the difference between isolation and solitude.
One has you thinking fearfully and the other provides you comfort when faced with fear.
Frye made sense to me at that time, but now, his words seem noisy and disruptive. And full of fear.
Frye, N. (1993). The Educated Imagination. Concord: House of Anansi Press Limited. (Original work published in 1963 CBC Enterprises)