I crave solitude. I’m generally a pleasant person, but if I don’t get my time alone I can be a tad testy. I was reminded of this last week, when, due to a variety of circumstances, I went three days without any time to myself. By the third day, I felt like a cat trying to swim the ocean – I was dazed and mortified, and anyone who had the misfortune of being in my vicinity was likely to get a hiss, a spit and a swipe of the claws.
Fortunately, the way my life is structured, those times at sea don’t happen more often than I can manage. Most days I can get at least a few hours to mull in my own cider.
Right up there with solitude is silence. Silence, of course, is not an absolute, it’s just the absence of sounds that engage my attention. Have to have it. Can’t really get too much of it. When I go too long without silence, the Jekyll on my back turns to Hyde.
Obviously, I need solitude and silence for my work, but it’s also something deeper. This is more about keeping my sanity, which happens to be, to my everlasting good fortune, directly connected to success in my work. If I weren’t composing, I’d probably be a very unhappy monk.
So I sit here in silence and solitude, and I wonder, can people really have use for such a thing as background music? For me, music is never background. If it’s on, I have to listen, or at least it has to take precedence over any independent train of thought.
Then there are those lovely people who somehow manage to have a television running 24/7 in every room. In my house, that would be a quick ticket to Bedlam.