Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitary (We’re born alone & we die alone)

Solitary cart.

We are born alone and we die alone.

Wait a minute!  you argue.  We’re born surrounded by a mama and papa (if we’re lucky) and a doctor who doesn’t throw his bloody gloves against the wall.  If we’re lucky.  The on-call doctor who delivered our firstborn was so angry at the interruption of his sleep that he shoved forceps around the head of our precious innocent baby and tugged him out ferociously before throwing his bloody gloves against the wall.  Don’t forget sweet nurses who coo and cuddle and wrap us in swaddling clothes (if we’re lucky, like we were, after the doctor stomped from the delivery room.)

Solitary. Before you were born…

Nonetheless, I assert that, when it’s all said and done, when we’re clapped upon our tender backs and sent off to kindergarten and Senior Prom and into that first boring job where we mourn all our hoped-for impossible dreams, we somehow, somewhere, must acknowledge that it’s a solitary job and only we can find our way through the labyrinth called life.

Solitary duck

When we’re on that death-bed, perhaps cognizant, perhaps unconscious, perhaps unrecognizable, only we alone shall make the leap into the Unknown, that continent called Death, that tunnel of light which leads beyond our bodies who once taunted “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me…”

Solitary grave

It’s a solitary job sandwiched between a thousand people, nay, maybe a million people but you, you, sweet singer, precious dancer, you with the hole in the center of your being that we all have–YOU must determine the way you’ll walk and somehow learn to honor yourself, your precious movement, your confused meanderings, your not-knowing, your next moment.

This week a dear friend spoke about the hole in the center of her heart, the center of her being, and I do believe it exists for all of us my friend, unless you’ve covered yours up with affirmations and positive thought and singing “Oh What a Beautiful Morning” the way I’ve sometimes covered up my hole.

We’re all broken, and we’re all solitary, and simultaneously–here’s the good news–we’re all completely whole beneath all the stories we tell ourselves in our ever-churning mind.  We’re all basically innocent and spanking newborn before the doctor throws his bloody gloves and we start mourning the couldas, wouldas, shouldas.

Solitary flower–which is you.

It’s a Solitary job, solitary confinement on this planet, actually, because, OK folks, lean close, I’m gonna tell you a secret:  underneath all the thoughts, the plans to grocery shop, the regrets, the anger, the twinkling ballet feet there is One Awareness which exists in all of us.  One seeing.  One God.  One Allah.  One All.  One Buddha.  One Great Spirit. One hearing. One perception which you’re glimpsing right now through your very eyes, your blue eyes, your brown eyes, your disagreeing eyes, your agreeing eyes.

A solitary Oneness which embraces the seven billion of us who love, weep, kill, sing in the shower and dance in the rain.  That Oneness expresses itself in a play where people pretend they are individuals, separate, solitary, experiencing all that life offers.

Where, do you ask, do I get my proof?

In the following photo, my friends.
It’s not called an interconnected web of life for nothing.  You bounce and I feel it.  I giggle and you laugh.  He shoots his gun and we cry.  You lose your way and we understand, how we understand, and we’ll help you search for your path because it’s OUR PATH, our world, our solitary spinning planet…

Single web of life

P.S. This post is brought to you today by the Weekly Photo Challenge at WordPress. The theme this week? Share a picture that means SOLITARY to you! OK, folks, here’s a few solitary pictures and an essay to boot in which we attempt to somehow bridge the gap between solitary and interdependent, if you don’t mind.

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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93 Responses to Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitary (We’re born alone & we die alone)

  1. wow- this was amazing, what more can I say. beautifully written – I am better for having read if–and I do not say that often

  2. sybil says:



    I seem to be short on smarmy, glib comments.

    Gimme a sec.





    I’ll think of something profound right AFTER I hit “enter” !

    • Kathy says:

      Have you thought of anything yet, Sybil? I liked your comment just the way it was. I like that there are more sides of you than I’ve yet got to know.

  3. Very well written with true meaning located behind the web of words and photos!

  4. Reggie says:

    What a profound and moving post, Kathy. I am rendered speechless…

  5. Susan Derozier says:

    Amazing as always Kathy.

  6. lisaspiral says:

    Nicely done. What kind of spider?

    • Kathy says:

      Thanks, Lisa. I had to scurry up to the photo to stare at it to try to answer your question. The kind of spider? I have no idea… The Spider of Life. lol!

  7. Elisa's Spot says:

    Dear Your Friend,
    I have that pit. When someone told me about that pit, I stamped my foot and decided the first best thing to do, would be not to try to put anymore things around it to cover it up. For a while I railed and cried about my pit. I wallowed at the edges of it, more attention that way maybe? Someone mentioned that the hole came from not having a higher power. I might know now, and I might not know now. It’s simply amazing to discover the pit, endless discovering and beauty there. One moment at a time.

    Love E.

    • Kathy says:

      I liked reading your discussion of the pit, Elisa. How you stamped your feet and tried to cover it up and cried and wallowed and eventually discovered the beauty and endless mystery of it. It sometimes takes a lifetime to find that it’s not something to be feared or despised.

  8. susan blake says:

    Hi Kathy,
    This was awesome – as usual. It also tickled my music memory and the song “One” from Chorus Line popped up. Do you know it? That hole/pit thing? I think that is where we are supposed to put our love – for ourselves and others. Seems once I did that, mine went away, taken up by love and joy, such a nice “filler”!
    p.s. LOVE your photos!!!

    • Kathy says:

      Oh yes! I had forgotten that song. Am listening to it now on YouTube. It sounds like you have discovered that the hole/pit is actually a gift that we find at the center of ourselves. To be filled with love and joy is perhaps our original state. Glad you liked the photos. The shopping cart pic is the only new one…from the dress shopping expedition for the wedding last week.

  9. Brenda Hardie says:

    We are all one….part of the whole… which is humanity ♥
    Beautiful pictures and words Kathy ♥ Sending you love from one individual to another, together, in this time called life, on this place called earth ♥

  10. Pingback: Weekly photo challenge: Solitary « The (Urban-Wildlife) Interface

  11. What a great post, Kathy! Love the way the duck has its image reflected in the water. I’ve missed getting to read your posts. However, I should be back to a regular blogging schedule Monday morning. About time, right? LOL

    • Kathy says:

      Kathy, I am glad you enjoyed this post. I have missed reading your wonderful comments over here, but understand that you’ve been super busy. I figured that duck’s reflection in the water points to the possibility that we might think we’re solitary but there’s always a reflection out there… Hugs, The Other Kathy

  12. Dawn says:

    Wow. Started out loving the shopping cart photo..so different than your usual, but so you. Ended up loving the whole thing. “You lose your way and we’ll help you search for your path.” Oh yes we will. We are all solitary individuals in a giant wonderful community. And aren’t we lucky.

    • Kathy says:

      Dawn, I would probably do more shopping photo cart pictures, but you know how it is when you’re surrounded by woods! We are lucky indeed. Oh yes we are. Thank you for pausing here and sharing some of the interconnectedness.

  13. Jo Bryant says:

    Very cool images…the shopping carts are so creative…love your entry

  14. Sid Dunnebacke says:

    While a day like today leaves me not entirely convinced by your last few paragraphs, I absolutely recognize the profound wisdom they contain. Wow, Kathy. I feel so smart for having subscribed to your blog.

    • Kathy says:

      Sid, gosh darn those days that don’t leave us entirely convinced! Then we sort of have to go on faith… As for smart for having subscribed to this blog, I’m not sure about that. Some days maybe….other days, well we’ve all got those days…

  15. Marianne says:

    Nice one, Kathy! It is all true. This seems like a post above all posts, Kathy. Can you bookmark it somehow to keep it up front and center? Of course, all of your other posts are genius as well, but this one just seems to top them all. I think you’re right. The process is helping me to recognize where the emotional charges come from. Michael Brown is right. Everything. All of it stems back to those childhood un-integrated emotional charges. I can see it so clearly. And, it’s true for all of us. I always thought I was privileged to escape unscathed (denial); however, I know different now. None of us escape it and we’re all in it together. We’re all guilty. We’re all innocent. Equally. I’m happy my post inspired your post. 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      It’s funny, Marianne, how often it feels like creativity simply involves opening a big enough space inside ourselves to let the Universe speak or show or reveal itself deeper. If there’s genius here, it’s simply because the Universe knows this space is available through which to share…I think. I am SO excited about your revelation! It is SO true! I used to think similarly, but realize now it’s simply not so. Like you just said we are all guilty and innocent, equally. That is our gift and our challenge. So glad that we’re friends. And thanks again for the inspiration!

  16. Joanne says:

    We travel through life as a solitary soul, entangled in the web of life. I think I get it Kathy, thanks to the clarity that your words have brought to me. As I sat beside my dying mother, my thoughts wandered to what you said in your first sentence ~ We are born alone and we die alone. Yes, alone, yet with so many others! We are all connected by the web of life. Only you could find the right words for “Solitary” Kathy, so perfect. 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Joanne, it’s fun–and such a challenge–to take a concept like “Solitary” and wrap it up to “interconnetedness”. To kind of show that it’s a gold coin, the heads and tails both. Our minds tend to want us to think that it’s either heads OR tails, but it’s both, a golden coin. If that metaphor makes sense. In my opinion, anyway! Alone, but not alone. Together, but separate. Life in its mystery. Thank you, my friend.

  17. john says:

    Thank you …

  18. Kerry Dwyer says:

    Very profound Kathy. As ever – I love the pictures.

  19. Arianne Z. says:

    I thought the first pic was pretty, and THEN I saw the graveyard pic, and THEN i saw the flower, and THEN i saw the spider. I guess what I want to say, is that you made a really good post wit lots of beautiful pictures. 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Why Arianne, you are wonderful! Thank you for stopping by and liking the FIRST picture and the SECOND picture and the THIRD and you know what? I love your comment. 🙂

  20. Beautiful pictures and beautifully written.

  21. Fountainpen says:

    Kathy, I think many people never get to the “web of interconnectedness”….they are not connected, or do not know how to connect…..
    difficult to know how to “teach” connectedness……

    • Elisa's Spot says:

      This just flew into head waving madly…so I will share.

      Understanding what grounded is, and being able to feel that in self and being connected to self in anchor, in my experiences, is vastly and primarily important. One can move in slowly widening ripples from self from there. Choosing to note and to feel energy, in the way that works for the individual, rather than following someone else’s tool. (tools can be useful, some are just shoulds)

      • Kathy says:

        And thank you, Elisa. I shall think about what you said about grounding. And, yes, I do agree with you about tools. They are sometimes more shoulds. Other times they are truly useful.

    • Kathy says:

      Fountainpen, you are so right. It can be difficult to understand, to share, to teach. I keep trying to understand it all at deeper and deeper levels. Some days it is easier than others.

  22. “… t’s a solitary job and only we can find our way through the labyrinth called life.”

    Kathy – these were the words, the precious, exquisite words that jumped off the page for me.

    • Kathy says:

      I am happy those words sizzled for you in this labyrinth we call life, Laurie. I am glad they jumped out of the computer and into your heart where they found a perfect hole to fill. (I am getting an image like those children’s puzzles where you put a circle in a circle hole or a square in a square hole.)

  23. msmcword says:


    My mother told me that when she went into labor with me her doctor actually got mad at her and said to her that it was three weeks too soon-as if my mother and I were doing it on purpose (I was born the following morning).

    I do not consider my journey in life a solitary job because I have Jesus with me -even though there are times when I feel alone and I need to stop and remind myself that I am in His presence.

    Keep up the blogging; I enjoy your posts.

    Nancy the Looper

    • Kathy says:

      Nancy, it sounds like you understand about the Oneness through your relationship with Jesus. Once we truly understand Oneness we never view “solitary” in the same way. Glad you enjoyed the post, but now I’m mad at your doctor, too!

  24. Heather says:

    We ate in a small town in the northern LP yesterday, and were lucky enough to see a minor parade. It had been organized to celebrate a soldier’s safe return. Community is a wonderful thing, and even though we often feel alone, we are all part of one.
    PS – LOVE the duck 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      I am fascinated, Heather, by how we all interpret “solitary” and “community”. It sounds like you felt the web of life through that small-town parade. We are all so interconnected. Even that duck. 🙂

  25. whatevertheyaint says:

    This is a beautiful essay, Mrs. Kathy. Remind me to never send a pregnant lady to that doctor! Other than him, I love the message conveyed in this piece and the pictures too.

    • Kathy says:

      That doctor is no longer a doctor, my friend, so no one need worry. In fact, that doctor now lies beneath a gravestone probably covered by leaves. In a strange course of events, I’ve grown to be good friends with his daughter. Strange how life is like that, huh? I am glad you liked this.

  26. debyemm says:

    I can’t believe that doctor behaved that way in delivering a baby !!

    Regarding your perspective on Death, you said – “When we’re on that death-bed, perhaps cognizant, perhaps unconscious, perhaps unrecognizable, only we alone shall make the leap into the Unknown, that continent called Death,” It’s so true. I remember when my FIL was dying. One day he was inundated with well wishers and hospice staff; and that night when we went to have dinner with my in-laws, for the first time since we truly knew he was leaving us, I could not reach him emotionally, could not connect verbally with him. He was behind mental walls. He was conscious but not reachable.

    I tried to explain my sorrow to my husband later that evening, when we returned home; but he just wasn’t able to understand – “you were there as much as I was”, he said. I went into our bathroom to cry alone in privacy. Sitting there on the floor, with my back against the tub, I finally understood. Dying is a very lonely thing. No one can go with us. So, regardless of how anyone acts at that time (and there have been other times I’ve been connected to someone dying), I understand this so deeply, that I can’t possibly intrude with my tender feelings hurt, from not receiving their attention.

    Bridging the gap, walking alongside you, walking alongside me, interconnected in ways that sometimes baffle us, even when we feel so very much alone with whatever is confronting us.

    • debyemm says:

      Oh those words trying to convey meaning – I just wish to clarify – that night we had dinner was not the first night we knew he was leaving us, it was the first time I could not connect with him. As I re-read it – again – I realized it wasn’t clear.

    • Kathy says:

      All these years later, Deb, I can hardly believe the doctor did that!! Thank goodness for the nurses.

      You were so close to your father-in-law, weren’t you? I can remember you sharing stories of him before. I see that you do deeply understand the depths of being with a dying person, and knowing that it is something which must been undertaken alone. Even when we’re supported by loved ones, faith, grace and the Universe.

      And, yes, always interconnected…

      • debyemm says:

        Being with my FIL in those 2 weeks when he was stating he was ready to die, were one of the most sacred experiences I have ever had. He needed “some spirituality”; and had been so anti-religion all of his life (and his family with him), there was no one to comfort him, regarding his misconceptions (probably from childhood, such as he was going to hell because of it – oh my). I pointed out that, he was a good man; and I told him there is no “right” path. I think that comforted him. I’ve never known anyone to “die” so well. Not in a hurry and ready. Back and forth, ready and dragging his feet to stay. Missing us already, while we were yet with him. The morning he left us, I actually felt his spirit – so free, unencumbered and joyfully soaring – everywhere all at once. It was a beautiful thing. May I die so well.

  27. Stacy Lyn says:

    Yes, we are born alone and die alone, but it is in the living that we are connected to others, which make the solitary ingress and egress less frightening. ❤

  28. Connie T says:

    These are wonderful pictures. I like the duck on the water and the last one is great.

    • Kathy says:

      I had to scroll up to the last photo to see what it was! (That’s how quickly I forget what I post, yikes.) Thank you, Connie. Always fun to go fishin’ in the photo folders and to share again.

  29. Wonderful photos, and very wise words to go along with them. Thank you, Kathy!

  30. Barb says:

    Both words and images to ponder, Kathy. Thank You.

  31. Karma says:

    How is it that your words so often resonate with me, Kathy? So many times you’ve written a post that makes me wonder, is she reading my mind, seeing my soul? Or maybe, simply, it is just more proof of how truly interconnected we all are.

    • Kathy says:

      I PROMISE you I’m not reading your mind, Karma. It’s the interconnected thing. I’ve seen this happen so often in the blogosphere. The Universe brings us all together, again and again…

  32. Colleen says:

    Yes, a solitary job and the feelings of aloneness that can be so overwhelming. And then those moments/times of awareness, knowing the connection to everything that is. And feeling overwhelmed, again. Such a paradox, if you try to think about it. Maybe this is the hole in our hearts?

    • Kathy says:

      Hi, Colleen. I know you understand this paradox. Understanding doesn’t always make it easier, does it? I want to LIVE in the connection to everything that is. To live FROM it. To live at the place where solitary & interdependent become One. You too?

  33. dearrosie says:

    It’s not easy finding a suitable photo. You’ve found half a dozen perfect photos.
    My favorite is the duck – the light reflected in the water is magical.

    How can a doctor behave like that? good gracious!

    • Kathy says:

      I haven’t been taking too many pictures in the last several months, Rosie, so have been fishing in old folders looking for appropriate ones to accompany stories. Glad you enjoyed these. As to that darned doctor? Inexcusable! That’s my opinion, anyway.

  34. lucindalines says:

    This fits well with my favorite poem, John Donne wrote:
    No man is an island,
    Entire of itself.
    Each is a piece of the continent,
    A part of the main.
    If a clod be washed away by the sea,
    Europe is the less.
    As well as if a promontory were.
    As well as if a manor of thine own
    Or of thine friend’s were.
    Each man’s death diminishes me,
    For I am involved in mankind.
    Therefore, send not to know
    For whom the bell tolls,
    It tolls for thee.

  35. Robin says:

    ♥ I feel as though I just went for a nice walk in your woods and we had this wonderful conversation about life, the universe, and everything. 😀

  36. I’m never alone – I have my cat! lol

    Sorry, I shouldn’t be so glib when you wrote so beautifully. I’m sorry, too, that your doctor was such an a$$. What should have been a glorious experience was ruined for you. Maybe your faith in doctors will be reaffirmed when you have grandchildren. 🙂

    Your photos do represent the aloneness and singularity of life, but I like that you attached the web of life as well. I do like to think we are all interconnected, especially when we feel most alone. 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      I am sometimes a fan of glib, withershins! Glad you have your cat. Actually, my faith in doctors was reaffirmed in a wonderful way after the birth of our second child. I was so grateful for the wonderful accompaniment by the doctor that I gushed about him for weeks. Perhaps in some way both birthings were interconnected…

  37. ailsapm says:

    As there hasn’t been a new WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge yet, perhaps you’d like to join in the Weekly Travel Theme http://wheresmybackpack.com/2012/09/28/travel-theme-foliage/ xxx Ailsa

    • Kathy says:

      Thank you for inviting me, Ailsa! The foliage is really starting to look wonderful around here. However, we are getting ready to go to my son’s wedding so probably won’t have time to play. You never know, though!

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