Share of Solitude
Everyone needs their share of solitude. A bit of silence, a chance to reflect is a necessity in my book. However in this day and age, it seems that being on the go is more fashionable. As if carrying on multiple simultaneous conversations somehow make us seem more efficient or maybe we just pride ourselves in multi-tasking, even when nothing gets done. Things fall through the cracks and fragmented conversations leave much to be desired.
I actually find it quite difficult to explain to people this craving for silence and solitude. How do you explain that when you have had a full day of running around like a head-less chicken at work, you would rather not utter a single word once you go home. You don’t want to have another phone conversation about nothing in particular.
Maybe the people who don’t really understand this requirement for solitude are the one’s who don’t need them. Maybe they don’t understand the difference between being alone and being lonely and they are afraid of being lonely. Maybe they are so much of an extrovert that its the constant hum of a million people around that they find soothing. Not the aloneness that you can enjoy taking a walk in the mountains with nothing but the landscape to keep you company.
I live a lot in my head. I constantly analyse myself, digging within to find my own reasons, the logic behind the illogical knee-jerk reactions brought on by something. Lastvyear, I also learnt my boundaries, on when to stop over-analyzing a situation or myself. When to stop being alone, go out and seek company if needed. It takes more courage to be completely honest within yourself, then to be honest with others.
I like to think that because I am willing to take that painful look inside my own soul, I have also learnt a few valuable lessons, not just about me but about my relationship with others. I always said this and then I forgot that lesson myself, until I had to painfully relearn it again last year. “People will show you who they are. They will tell you who they are. You have to stop talking and start listening, put a hold on your preconceived notions to see people for who they really are”.
And if you want to know who you are and how you relate to the world around you, stop talking, start listening to yourself, to the thoughts that are running on the train tracks inside your head. Perhaps then, you won’t be caught by surprise when what you want and what you need turn out to be two different things. In solitude, you might actually discover the words to tell life exactly what you want out of it. In silence, you might find that your heart and your soul has a different language than your brain. When these two halves become one, you my friend, can expect to live a full life.
In the calmness of the depths of your soul, you will find the strength needed to weather life’s storm. You will walk through the valleys of life with a smile on your smile. In situations like this, I find myself repeating this line over and over again, until calmness is restored in my mind: “I will walk through the valley of death, but I will not be afraid. Because He is walking with me, watching over me. I will never be alone or vulnerable because God created me in love and will never let me fail”. I don’t exactly remember who said this but its a very good advice – If life knocks you down on your knees, use that opportunity to pray.
For a better explanation of the difference between alone and lonely, check out the following blog 🙂
I started off the New Year with silence. I switched off my phone, retreated into my home for 3 days of solitude. No phone calls, no chats, minimal human contact.
And here’s what I discovered:
I am so used to being alone at home that I didn’t really see a big difference. In fact somehow having the phone off felt liberating. Remaining signed out from chat messengers felt liberating. I was un-plugged and liberated.
My body’s biorhythm remained unchanged. I slept my usual quota of hours. I couldn’t sleep more or less. This reconfirms the theory that you cannot deprive your body of rest through the week and then expect to catch up on the weekend. Over-sleeping will leave you with a headache and sluggish, while undersleeping can leave you feeling cranky. If you remember to brush your teeth everyday to maintain your oral hygiene, then you should also take care to get enough sleep to give your body the rest it needs to repair and restore itself.
Through the days of my retreat, I still got up in the morning, had my shower and dressed as if I am going out. Only I was staying home ofcourse. Just that single act of getting out of my PJ’s, showering and putting on fresh clothes and make-up changed the whole tone of my day. I felt livelier, composed, ready to face anything.
In solitude I finally found the concentration to actually read a book, cover to cover. 1 book in 1 day. I hadn’t done that in a while, I either didn’t have the time or the mental energy to just immerse myself in a book. So I kinda expected to put down the book after a couple of hours, but somehow I didn’t. I read it, cover to cover and loved it. I also watched Grey’s Anatomy the whole of season 5 and loved that too.
I discovered that people who love me will always find the time or a way to get to me, to include me in their life. They either barged into my retreat or knocked softly just to check whether I am ok. These are not people bonded by blood to me. They are much much more. They are my friends, the family that I got to choose for myself, they are my biggest cheerleaders and while they may not understand my need for solitude, they certainly respected it. But even then, they made sure to let me know that I am on their mind and they were concerned for me. I felt loved. Even when solitude was my choice, I wasn’t lonely.
Families may not always get us but that doesn’t mean that they don’t love us. Sometimes we just do better apart. Each in their own universe, with their own belief system and their own way of expressing love. I get into trouble when I expect them to react like me, because its easy to forget that neither them nor I can react like each other. We don’t hold the same things to be sacred and therefore we do not place the same weight in our expressions of certain elements. For example, I would rather that my loved ones sit and spend time talking to me, while my family, my grandmother & mother, expresses their love by cooking. I don’t care for food like they do and they don’t care for conversation like I do. But that’s ok. End of the way, just the fact that the love is there somwhere is enough.
I can’t get depressed, even when I get down, because I am wayyyy too lucky, too fortunate to moan much about misery. I have far more than most people do and it just feels weird to moan about things. I have great friends, a good home, good career, a very interesting and challenging job. I have a healthy and bright 8 year old son who keeps me on my toes. I have a kitten who is so naughty that she keeps getting into constant trouble and yet is the cutest thing when she keeps curling up to sleep in my lap. Moaning with so many blessings in my life is just wrong.
So instead, this year, I will try to journal the things that I am grateful for. Each day when I post my blog, I hope to include one thing that I am particularly grateful for in that day.
Today, I am grateful for my life. For me being me. For everything that I have gone through that has shaped me, the good, the bad and the ugly. End of the day, I have a beautiful life. A blessed life. And I am grateful for that life.
- Taking time for ourselves (mindfulbalance.org)
- More About Solitude (christopherscottblog.typepad.com)
- learn & love: be okay with solitude (thejolynproject.com)
- 100 Days of Wisdom: Wisdom Day 67 – The Remedy, Refuge and Wisdom of Solitude (wisdominthewhisper.com)
- Solitude (eremophila.wordpress.com)