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From the Teacher's Desk

A busy solitude


The happiest of all lives is a busy solitude.


Ah! Summer holidays! For those of us in the teaching profession, rest and relaxation is the order of the day. Time away from the classroom, the lesson planning, and the marking is a welcome pause - a time of renewal before the new school year beckons in a couple of weeks. I like the "busyness" of summer holidays: spending time with my family, playing sports I enjoy, taking care of household chores (mild enjoyment!), and relaxing with a good book or maybe even watching a few innings of a Blue Jays game.

When I consider Voltaire's expression - a busy solitude - I'm reminded of the activities mentioned above. Although, being busy and finding solitude at the same time is almost a misnomer, isn't it? Or is it? I guess it comes down to how we feel about what we're busy doing - whether or not we're satisfied with it.

I believe the foundation of a busy solitude is a positive attitude. By extension, a positive attitude comes from, and is enhanced by, having a specific purpose in life. This purpose - maybe even a burning desire - comes into greater focus when it's fortified by belief. Then, in order for belief to be sustained over the long term, it requires an inner resolve - a quiet confidence born out of a firm spiritual faith that, in my estimation, is rooted in prayer.

Recently, my mom and I were discussing the lifestyle and work habits of her parents. Her dad spent much of his life as a hardworking fisherman and, because of the seasonal nature of his work, often spent months away from home fishing "off the Labrador." As a result of my grandfather's long periods of time away from home, my grandmother was left with the duties associated with maintaining the household and tending to the needs of their children. Whether or not my grandmother called it achieving or enjoying a busy solitude, she surely had to develop an inner resolve to handle the many responsibilities she faced. From the time spent around my grandmother, I know she lightened the load of her responsibilities by turning to a higher source for spiritual guidance.

French Renaissance writer, Michel de Montaigne, once said: "The greatest thing in the world is to know how to be self-sufficient." Along with tapping into the power of prayer, self-sufficiency is a direct corollary of heeding the wise advice of singer/songwriter Joe Knapp: "Wake up with a smile and go after life Live it, enjoy it, taste it, smell it, feel it."

Leonard Quilty is a teacher with the Centre for Learning@Home in Okotoks, Alta. and is also the president of Communication T.I.P.S., a speaking/training business. He can be reached by e-mail at He is home for the summer in Marystown on the Burin Peninsula of his beloved Newfoundland and Labrador.

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