“Sharing Time” & “Kitchen Window,” by guest writer John Ashbaugh — Who but You? living alone series

Wood panel carving / sculpture at Anjuna Beach, Goa, India.   Photo credit:  John Ashbaugh
Wood panel carving / sculpture at Anjuna Beach, Goa, India.
Photo credit: John Ashbaugh

Sharing Time

     Living alone or not living alone is about sharing time.  One very nice thing about living alone is that I especially enjoy my visitors, and how they fill my otherwise empty rooms with their presence, for the time they are here, for their echo in my memory.  There are as many different kinds of solitude as there are solitary people.  A person can live in solitude in a cardboard box down by the river under the bridge, just as well as in a castle with many rooms.  The solitary frame of mind can walk the crowded city streets, in search of that quiet place where the voices of memory engage in their endless conversation.

Solitude comes in many flavors of joy and sorrow.  Looking for another is a healthy ingredient, in good measure.  A roommate, a partner, a lover, a spouse . . . . there is always a level of interaction to seek, all in measure to your need for solitude and that time to listen to the silence that surrounds you in your private, personal space – that place you came from before you were born, and to which you return when your last breath exhales.  How deeply do you know that space within, and do you enjoy your time there?

To partner or not to partner is not a choice made from off the shelves of the department store.  Partnering strategies and goals are as numerous as the population of solitary souls.  Meanwhile, the energy of the universe, the energy that spins galaxies and hurricanes, that lights campfires and fireflies, flows within the heart of those who have learned to treasure the voices from our memories.  And there is also that voice of that solitary person inside who is always telling you what you are thinking, there across that razor thin, infinitely wide chasm between who you are and whom you think you are.

Sharing yourself with others is part of whom you are, while the time you spend with yourself is where you come to terms with your meaningful interpretation.

The extent to which you can share this meaningful interpretation is questionable, and certainly variable, while the attempt is inevitable and necessary.

Meaningfulness and Expression.

Find your meaningfulness in solitude, and share it through your expression. You alone, know how your scales balance.

Sunset in Kerala, India. Photo credit:  John Ashbaugh
Sunset in Kerala, India.
Photo credit: John Ashbaugh
Dreamscape Sand. Photo credit:  John Ashbaugh
Dreamscape Sand.
Photo credit: John Ashbaugh

Kitchen Window

     Now having passed through a night of full moon, Dawn comes from behind the horizon of our mountain range, then threads her way through the fractal universe of cottonwood branches to then tumble her way through my kitchen window onto my white adobe walls.

There is some unknown genie within, who seeks his space, her space,

from which to listen to the emptiness of nothingness.  Perhaps the flames of a fire whisper nearby, or the call of a crow or a goose flying overhead will come through, the pure sound of nature apart from our chattering discourse, that ocean of opinions and emotions and stories out there that need to be told, that cry out for telling, that cry out to be heard, everywhere on the other side of my hacienda door.

Indeed, it would be fine to find that person whose voice I recognize with my heart, who in turn enjoys listening to my voice.  She is that person I could live with and travel with twenty-four-seven, or as close to that as we could get, for it is our tonalities that would align, along with our heartbeats, and our living and traveling together would be a communion of sharing.

And even then, there would be this need for personal time, listening to the whispering fire, watching Dawn bring her glow to the sky, listening for that faraway owl asking her question, Whoo?

When you have known living with that other person with that voice, when you have felt those heartbeats reaching for each other, and that person has passed out of your life, that memory is always there, and that memory listens closely to every voice encountered along the way through the continuing, meandering parade of souls whom we encounter.

The memory listens closely for an echo, and there may come a time when two voices meet again, and the falling into each other may begin again, and until that begins, I wait, listening to the emptiness of nothingness, where everything begins.

“Sharing Time” & “Kitchen Window” written by John Ashbaugh

This Bio is the story of a journey that begins in memory with St. Louis, Missouri, the city where two rivers meet, and then proceeds to Champaign-Urbana, Illinois for four years to earn a degree in Economics.

From there to the other side of the world with the Peace Corps to the City by the Sea, Cuddalore, South India.  Here I learn another way of looking at our world.  A two week trek into the Himalayas of Nepal opens my eyes a little more.  After a series of two-week visits to Sri Lanka, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, South Vietnam and Japan, I am taken back to Champaign-Urbana where I study Anthropology and South Asian culture.  Indian music, sitar and tabla, or veena and mridangam, and through all of its other instruments, has been a blessing.

I take another step and visit the worlds of painting on canvas and writing poetry and short stories.  Another turning point.  Another two roads parting in the woods.  We make our choices along the way, my multiple selves and l.  There are eighteen years in the city between the lakes, Madison, Wisconsin, with ongoing ties to the City by the Lake, Chicago.

From here, a giant leap across the midlands to the quiet town of Canyon, Texas, at the source of the Prairie Dog Town fork of the Red River.  Down the road from Canyon, I meet the Red Rock beauty of Palo Duro Canyon, and learn to sit and listen to the wind with her and bring the music of her color to my canvas.  Then comes the time to step across the Llano Estacado, and drive through the Sandia pass to find another world in another city by the river, Albuquerque.  Seven years in the city, and seven years in Corrales, and a lot of driving around and camping around the synaesthetic New Mexico landscape.

Other stopovers along the way include a ten-day visit to the city on the island in the lake, Flores, Guatemala, and to her sister from the past, Tikal.      

There is a week in Paris, on my walkabout journey through her streets and galleries and worlds of art and literature that I have always been drawn to.

Thus my bio as a story of places I have known.  These are the landscapes, seascapes, and cityscapes that have gone into the making of my visual world, and every morning begins another episode of exploration and discovery.





John Ashbaugh

March 6, 2015

Portrait by Dee Cohen Bruno.
Portrait by Dee Cohen Bruno.

This is part of the Who but You? living alone series.  Check out the other posts!  They are published every Monday.

Join the Who but You? project:  E-mail your story, prose, poetry, art and/or photos about living alone to powerofpaperzines@gmail.com for consideration.  Please include a brief Bio.  For more information, click on the “Who but You? project” tab at the top of this blog’s main page.

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8 Comments Add yours

  1. Irene Riley says:

    This is a beautiful read, taking me places and showing me areas through John’s mind eye. Having been taught in early years by the same women in black habits and at this age having learned that no matter where life took us or how many people we met…nothing makes us wish we were someone else. Our memories have been the building blocks of our futures.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. K. Adonna says:

    “…nothing makes us wish we were someone else” is a beautiful thought. Thank you for reading, and for your comment, Irene!


  3. Anonymous says:

    I have just returned from an 8-day journey across four states by car, bike, and airplane, and am especially grateful for this perspective of solitude, sharing spaces, and the landscapes, seascapes, and cityscapes that make up the visual world of Mr. Ashbaugh. I have a new-found gratitude for the places and silences I have been able to experience, and understand that movement is indeed both a choice and a privilege, particularly as I interact with those who have never left their family and town of origin. Thank you for your beautifully written piece.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Anonymous says:

      What I also meant to add is that, upon my return, and after reading this piece, nothing makes me wish I was someone else.


      1. K. Adonna says:

        Anonymous, I especially appreciated “I have a new-found gratitude for the places and silences I have been able to experience, and understand that movement is indeed both a choice and a privilege…” I am thinking of the times I’ve come home feeling similarly, and with some sadness — a withdrawing from the excitement of travel — but overall, with a sense of relief coming back to the quiet me-cave. Thank you for reading. ❤


  4. Poetically written (no surprise there) and gorgeously visual. Thank you John and thank you Kim!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. K. Adonna says:

      He’s super, as we well know! Thank you for reading, lovely Susana. ❤


  5. rlm51 says:

    I loved reading your work. I’m only starting to travel now I have the time. Before. Time was spent with taking care of my family. Over the years I have had a lot of losses; husband; daughter; baby; father; mother. I looked after my parents until they departed. My family have grown with family of their own. I associate with people around me. But. I like to have my time to write. I have just finished a 61,000 word novel to do with Angels and the Devil. Have to go through to check for type “O”. First though. I’m going on a bus trip with a lot of oldies. Then I have to write a couple of 500 word stories for April. The topic is to do with grandparents. Not having much time with them I don’t have much to say. Accept for being grumpy. I will be taking photos while I’m away.


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