3 minute read

The Tree House Chronicles: Outside, an Internal Exploration of Solitude, Part One

“The Tree House Chronicles: Outside, an Internal Exploration of Solitude” is a series created in self isolation in a tree house in the woods. “The Tree House Chronicles: Outside, an Internal Exploration of Solitude” explores my experiences with solitude. Beginning in childhood’s quiet moments, growing roots in my teens as I read the stories of lonely artists(1) and a solitary family(2), and solidifying as I confront a world altered by COVID-19.

Pandemics Need Introverts

In her book Quiet, author Susan Cain wrote “the United States is among the most extroverted of nations” yet according to studies, “one third to one half of Americans are introverts”. In this changing time, Susan Cain’s analysis of introversion may have a surprising key to withstanding the COVID-19 pandemic: “solitude can be a catalyst to innovation.(3)

As an introvert growing up in the U.S., I learned how to act extroverted. By acting extroverted, I learned how deeply I craved and loved solitude. Solitude within nature and books, those quiet moments turning the world into patient possibility. But in this pandemic solitude felt different, felt lonely and isolated, until I realized I was far from alone.

Experiencing Solitude Together

Just as I share my solitude with singing birds in the forest and with authors’ voices emerging from book pages, humanity shares the COVID-19 pandemic’s solitude. Paradoxically, an entire country —an entire planet— experiences solitude “together” as we social distance, self isolate, and quarantine.

Within this solitude we, quite literally, care for each other and positively affect the climate(4). Within this solitude we secure time for healthcare workers and our future. As science writer Ed Yong explained(5), when COVID-19 cases in the US were still below 500,000(6),

[t]here are now only two groups of Americans. Group A includes everyone involved in the medical response, whether that’s treating patients, running tests, or manufacturing supplies. Group B includes everyone else, and their job is to buy Group A more time.

To be continued on Week 23…

*Endnotes and Resources

1. Laing, Olivia. “The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone”. 2016.
2. García Márquez, Gabriel. “One Hundred Years of Solitude”. 1967.
3. Cain, Susan. “Quiet The power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”. 2012. Pages 3,4,74.
4. Koren, Marina. “The Pandemic is Turning the Natural World Upside Down“. The Atlantic. April 2, 2020.
5. Yong, Ed. “How the Pandemic Will End“. The Atlantic. March 25, 2020.
6. Schiffmann, Avi. “nCoV2019.live“. Accessed May 2020.

People, Works, Terms Mentioned:

Susan Cain / Introvert (please note introversion is a complex term deserving personal exploration and study) / Extroversion / Solitude / COVID-19 pandemic / Ed Yong

*All references and resources have been thoroughly researched prior to use.