Would it be possible to be here, in absolute solitude and be able to write a book? Could this solitude, this silence really do the trick? It was so quiet last night to be slightly eerie, a little bit intimidating. Monkeys and baboons had gone to sleep in the tree tops, the scorpion on the doorstep finally retreated to its apartments and the parrots stopped singing. I kept waking up every two hours, spooked by the silence.
If I open the door, though, the roar of the ocean comes growling in. This morning we embarked on a long hike to Hog’s head. Looking up from the desolate beach, a large rock juts out, with a round, flat nose, indentations marking the eyes and the ears – it does look like a pig. We miss the turn and end up all the way at the top of the mountain, commanding a 360 degrees view of the valley, the mountains, the beaches, the lagoon and the river. I realize that the cluster of houses where we are staying is much smaller than I thought from the ground. On the way back we take a trail in the forest, around the lagoon – again, no sounds but for the lapping of the water, our shoes on the cover of dead, crackling leaves. Branches intertwined above us, some dangling at eye level – the path is clear but, with not one of us blessed with a strong sense of direction, we are not quite sure where we are and we plow on, silent and a bit tired. I start thinking of the French woman kidnapped by guerrillas in Colombia and forced to long marches in the jungle for the seven years she was in captivity, moving from camp to camp. She must have gotten incredibly fit.
The mind plays funny tricks in this silence. Disconnected from the outside world – nothing to let me know what is going on out there, a sense of peace first falls upon me. A welcome feeling of distance and carelessness. As I keep on walking, the chatter kept at bay by contentment bursts in announced as a stream of thoughts encompassing all that I left behind, all my insecurities and worries and still lingering decisions. Shouldn’t I just enjoy this paradise at this very moment? I walk on, under the sun smiling through the treetops. As in meditation, eventually the thoughts fall away, leaving the door open to let nature’s sounds come in once again.
So, is it really necessary to seek this seclusion in order to write a book? Of course not, but it’s a nice starting point from which to observe one’s mind, unhindered by obligations and the pull to stay connected. When our mind hits the wall, it’s easier to find the door through to the other side.
If I look up at the night sky, the backdrop is the fiercest black against which the stars seem even brighter and the Milky Way is clearer, luminous. And so is the Southern Cross, beckoning and shining like a lantern showing the way to anyone caring to find it.