*Our paying subscribers can now listen to full audio versions of some of Juke’s most-loved essays. First was “Driving Lessons: The Audio Version.” Then “The Witching Hour: Audio Version .” Last month, we posted the full-length recording of “When I Disappeared.” And this month is Paul Vlachos’ “Silence and Solitude.” Free subscribers and everyone else can hit play for a short preview. Then check out the original piece, linked below, if you haven’t read it before… TM*
“So, noise has been on my mind lately. I think of one of my private guilty pleasures - of when I finally get out west to the desert, find a place to park, turn off the engine, then just sit back and let the quiet envelop me. The emptiness expands and something shifts inside. It’s the same feeling I get when I slide into a primitive hot spring. But I realize now it’s not quiet and noise that are really on my mind. What’s really on my mind is solitude. I have felt a bit alienated lately.
“An old friend once told me that ‘isolation is when it’s forced on you, but solitude is when you choose it.’ He was the same guy who told me that ‘sanity speaks in a whisper,’ so I believed him when he first told me that, 30 years ago. I believe him now more than ever.
“Sonny was the first guy I knew who played computer solitaire. He played it obsessively. This was in the early 1990s. He had already seen a child of his die a horrible death. We sat in coffee shops for years, talking about stuff. He ended up in a long-term care center for the last 15 years of his life, having lost his legs to diabetes - and he was powerless over his own isolation by that point. He had no choice.
“Solitude, isolation, silence and loneliness. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what’s what. Another wise old guy used to tell me how he would go to the desert when he felt scrambled up inside. ‘The desert will take you apart, Paul, but then it will put you back together again.’”
Read the full piece here…
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Paul Vlachos is a writer, photographer and filmmaker. He was born in New York City, where he currently lives. He is the author of “The Space Age Now,” released in 2020, “Breaking Gravity,” in 2021, and the just-released “Exit Culture.”