Solace, according to Dictionary.com, means relief or comfort in sorrow, trouble, or distress. We all live under relative levels of stress which fluctuate depending on the circumstance. There’s good stress and bad stress. Good stress is starting your new dream job. Bad stress is being fired. Any stress, if sustained and compounded will have adverse effects.
It’s quick and easy to find suggestions for relieving stress. We might even find relief in unexpected places.
Returning from a visit with a college friend in Mississippi, I traveled Highway 27 to Interstate 55 to Interstate 12. This route drove home a point I’d felt for years. I silently accepted open highway as my personal therapy. Of all the ways I relax or relieve stress, only driving along a beautiful highway transports me beyond the rest of the world.
I drank in the winding contour of the road, the dense vegetation and open fields, the amber light of sunrise and the shadows it made on the ground. I soaked up the placid sky.
It’s been this way since I attended Mississippi State and drove the many roads connecting Starkville to other points on the map. I distinctly remember an afternoon when the sunset on Highway 80 compelled me to tears.
I think the key to solace and peace is simplicity. I also think it’s easy to focus on what small towns like Vicksburg and Starkville lack, and miss the stillness they offer, the potential for peace and space. I say potential because it’s still up to the person to be still.
In Vicksburg I found other simple joys: watching the river, studying the historic artifacts and architecture, and discovering the original, local art. The artwork in the various shops or galleries represent, for me, the ability to find beauty and inspiration in ordinary objects, events, places, and creatures. A bright wall full of watercolor birds. Quilted books. Coincidentally, this artwork might be the artist’s solace.
Good or bad, if unchecked, stress kills. People talk about what saved their lives. Example: “Hip-Hop saved my life.”
In the present, I believe the practice of being still and having a low threshold for joy and beauty saves my life every day. I let go of stress more readily without the self destructive behaviors associated with seeking a “higher high.” I put those words in quotes because I don’t think detrimental or superficial highs are actually high. I believe there’s nothing higher than being centered and grounded.
I’ve never lived in Vicksburg, so I don’t speak from long term experience, but I found simple solace in my trip.
With love, from Sarah L. Webb
What’s in your hand?
- Day One – Road Trip (freelancephotog.typepad.com)