I am a big fan of solitude.
Superman liked the concept so much he built a whole fortress dedicated to the idea because it sometimes becomes increasingly difficult to gain access to good quality solitude, especially when you live in an overpriced, over crowded city in a digital age that bombards you with constant notifications and updates. I’ll be the first to admit that I sometimes find the fact that I can be constantly accessed digitally both annoying and overwhelming at times, which makes me hold onto the grip of solitude a little tighter.
It could be argued that I love my moments of solitude a little too much?? That being said I wouldn’t trade these invaluable moments of isolation for all the green emeralds in the city of Oz. I just need that alone time, time to think, not to think, to reflect, to catch up with my own thoughts, to just be.
Luckily nature has it’s own “inbuilt” solitude maker in the form of something we call sleep, but that’s on the assumption that you want to slip into an unconscious dream state and I very much like to be self aware during my periods of solitude.
I remember being about nine and walking past a fancy restaurant that had large glass window panels. At one of the tables was a very solemn looking grey haired gentleman sitting alone, with only his newspaper for company. I remember seeing this man and feeling a misplaced sense of sympathy for this perfect stranger because he seemed so lonely. As a child seeing a man eating alone pulled pretty hard at the chords of my heart strings as my nine year old mind created a whole fictional backstory equating this passing strangers loneliness with sadness.
So fast forward 30 years later and thinking back I have a completely different perspective on the same situation, as I realise that my nine year old self didn’t have enough life experience to comprehend that being alone has nothing to do with feeling lonely.
Was it possible that he was all alone and had no family or friends to dine with on that particular evening? Sure. But was it equally possible that he had a loving family and a great social network of friends and simply wanted some quality time basking in the warmth of his own company…I think so.
It’s amazing to me how the journey in this thing we call life can provide us with a wider angle lens to view the world. Let’s face it, life just wouldn’t be the same if we didn’t indulge in the great taste of good company, conversation and connection although in many ways I think of solitude in the same way I think of a good power ballad…
When I hear the larger, fuller notes I literally feel that I can kiss the sky but my soul can only feel the punch of those notes because they are counterbalanced by a soft, tender touch. I need the moments of quiet tenderness formed in a power ballad to truly value the bigger bolder notes.
In a similar way that I need the quiet of my alone time to fully appreciate the noise of living in the modern world. I don’t want to sound like a trainee Zen master; as no one loves to feel the pulse of the digital age more than I however like my nine year old self I don’t want people to be deceived into believing that being alone is the same as feeling lonely.
Until next time.
“Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as a means of escape.” -Bell Hooks