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Celebrating Solitude

Sunrise over Palm Beach, Fla. © Charles & Mary Love

On New Year’s Day in Palm Beach, we strolled down the beach at dawn. The sky was nearly cloudless, and the ocean unusually calm for winter—in fact, the Atlantic was as still as a lake. Best of all, the beach was quiet, the silence broken only by the lap of small waves on the shore and the occasional cry of a seabird.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s words from A Gift From The Sea came to mind: “Openness, simplicity, patience, faith—is what the sea has to teach.” Over fifty years ago she found solace at the seashore as she sought respite from everyday life. Today, little has changed—except perhaps the pace at which information and events crowd our lives.

In Sunday’s New York Times (1/1/12), Pico Iyer’s essay, “The Joy of Quiet,” echoes, and updates, Lindbergh’s words:  “In barely one generation, we’ve moved from exulting in time-saving devices that have so expanded our lives to trying to get away from them—often in order to make more time. The more ways we have to connect, the more many of us seem desperate to unplug….”

He goes on to mention “Internet rescue camps” in South Korea and China that try to save screen-addicted kids. And he reports that he’s been reliably advised that the future of travel lies in “black-hole resorts,” which charge high prices precisely because they offer solitude and neither Internet nor TV.

Iyer, a British essayist, novelist and travel writer who found solitude himself by leaving Manhattan and moving with his wife and children to rural Japan, has also just published a fascinating book about novelist and inveterate traveler Graham Greene, titled The Man Within My Head, also in Sunday’s New York Times Book Review.

As veteran travelers and editors, we’ve learned the value of taking time to reflect. It’s easy to overlook what’s important—the heart of a story, the spirit of a place, a surprising insight.

So, at the start of this New Year, we’re  reminding ourselves to seek destinations and experiences that offer inspiration, and to “stop and smell the roses”— both antidotes to the rush and chatter of contemporary life.

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