SHUT IT DOWN

Words by Allie Jenkinson
Photo by Jenn Dykstra

I am a true introvert, my husband a true extrovert. Which means we spend a lot of time telling each other how weird we think the other one is. He gets anxious if he doesn’t socialize or get out of the house enough. I need time to recover from a string of family gatherings and social events like a bear in hibernation. I love my family and friends, but god damn it, they’re loud.

Despite our many opposites, we both despise big cities and the crowds and traffic they bring. We’ve moved to smaller and smaller places over the past decades: Calgary, Toronto, and Victoria to Whistler and Cumberland, the crowds driving us out of the Sea-to-Sky corridor nearly overnight before a short stint in the desert of over-populated southern California nearly drove us mad. It’s no accident that the rivers, coastlines, and wide open farmland of the Comox Valley make us more content than we’ve ever been.

If there’s one thing I always feel I need more of, it’s solitude. I thrive when the waters are still. I remember who I am, and I can hear my own voice. I can see my goals more clearly, and the big picture of my life and the future I want for my family comes in to focus.

When asked what he wants to do with the rest of life, a character in Elizabeth Gilbert’s novel The Signature of All Things responds, “I would like never to travel again. I would like to spend the rest of my days in a place so silent—and working at a pace so slow—that I would be able to hear myself living.” 

At the risk of sounding deeply unambitious, my biggest goal at this time in my life is to do the work that matters most to me, and to be able to hear myself living.

If the summer is a season of Fridays and Saturdays, autumn is a lazy Sunday afternoon. May you find a little peace as the days grow shorter and cooler, and enjoy the wonderful touchstones that autumn provides.

If you’re lucky, you’ll find some time to do it in solitude.