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2 - solitude 3
does solitude turn into loneliness? In my life,
"solitude" has always been a positive word, while
"loneliness" has been a word that has described some of
the most painful feelings I've ever felt. I can't begin to
count the number of days that loneliness and a sense of isolation
have developed into severe depression, and to be honest, I don't
want to count them or even think about them much. They're in
the past now, and I sincerely hope that they're not a part of my
future. I can't know this, but I certainly can hope.
being on one's own with one's own thoughts. For many people,
this is a healthy, desirable state in which to be--it's relaxing,
refreshing, rejuvenating. It allows us to check our
perspective, to practice introspection so that we may clarify
ideas and thoughts. Being on our own, away from the input of
other people's ideas, gives us the opportunity to come into closer
contact with who we are, with our sense of morals, with our
character, with our goals and hopes and desires. We're away
from peer pressure, from job pressures, from social obligations,
and we can use that time to experience some of the quiet that's
missing so often in our daily routines.
a way, solitude helps us from becoming addicted to other people,
or to break the addictions to others that we have.
we be addicted to other people? When we use being with
others as an excuse not to be with ourselves, then we're addicted
to others. When we can't spend a moment alone without the
television set or radio blaring, then we're addicted to being with
An addiction is something that we do or use to avoid
dealing with problems or insecurities--the alcoholic doesn't love
alcohol as much as he or she wants to avoid dealing with personal
issues. The drug addict is doing the same thing. Both
of them will tell you that they do it for the "high,"
but the fact is that the high wears off pretty quickly, and the
more one drinks or does drugs, the less of a high there is.
with other people keeps our minds on other things--we can talk
about sports or television or the weather, all the trivial things
that fill our lives day to day, without even thinking about the
problems we have. This is why so many people need therapists
later in life--because they've spent their youthful years avoiding
contemplation and solitude. They've never been able to come
to grips with who and what they are, to accept themselves and to
set up challenges for themselves.
people search out solitude without even thinking that they need to
do so--it's an innate urge with them, something that they do as a
matter of course, without even thinking about the psychological
benefits of being alone. These people are very fortunate,
for they help themselves in a very important way on a regular
people are given solitude involuntarily--with me it came from my
insecurities and my inability to fit in with others. For me,
solitude was very often loneliness, and very often painful.
But I know now that I made it painful because of my perspective,
and I regret losing so many opportunities that being on my own
opened up to me--I'll never be able to get them back.
or make time for yourself to be with yourself. Spend time
thinking about who you are and who you want to be. Examine
your strengths and focus on possibilities. Find the friend
inside who has accomplished a lot, and learn to love yourself on
your own terms. If you can do this, you've taken a very
important step towards being able to help others to learn about
themselves and to be more content with life.
What a lovely
surprise to finally discover how unlonely being alone can be.
Solitude, o solitude
You can't make up your mind
Sometimes you won't leave us alone
Sometimes you're hard to find
At times you wear a different face
And then you change your name
By calling yourself loneliness
You play your cruel game
On summer nights when stars are bright
We don't want you around
But if we want to share the scene
It's often you we've found
Don't think we don't appreciate
The times we need your touch
But when you hang around too long
You always cost too much
able to be alone. Lose not the advantage of solitude.
cannot confront solitude
without moral resources.
When we cannot
bear to be alone, it means we do not properly value
the only companion we
will have from birth to death--ourselves.
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Two - Year Three
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We visit others
as a matter of social obligation.
How long has it been since we have
visited with ourselves?
Our language has
wisely sensed the two sides of being alone. It has created
"loneliness" to express the pain of being alone. And it
the word "solitude" to express the glory of being
person who travels alone can start today; but the person
travels with another must wait until the other is ready.
years ago, I spent Christmas day completely alone. It
wasn't entirely by choice, but it happened, and that day was an
important turning point in my life. It was a quiet,
peaceful, reflective day--I didn't go out anywhere at all.
I just stayed home and listened to Christmas music and tried to
get the most out of what before I would have seen as a very
negative situation. Before it happened, I never would have
been able to imagine spending Christmas alone, but I grew more
on that day than I ever have on any other day.
sure, I come from a family that isn't particularly close--we've
never had those holidays with lots of relatives over, those
crowded-house ordeals that are so enjoyable. I've also
lived overseas for at least six Christmases, but I've always had
somewhere to be during those holidays. But a few
Christmases ago, it became apparent to me that I was probably
going to end up being alone for the holiday, and I was surprised
to find that I didn't dread the idea. In fact, it seemed
rather attractive. There were a few places I could have
gone that day, but I didn't feel drawn to any of them. As
the day got closer, I turned down a couple of invitations and
decided to be on my own that day--just me and God and Christmas
possibility I most dreaded was that of depression coming back--I
had just gone through a rather serious bout of it much earlier
in the year, and I wasn't too thrilled about the idea of going
through it again. In the past, holidays had sometimes been
a trigger for the down feelings, and I didn't want that to
happen. On the other hand, I felt that I needed to do
this, and I couldn't go against it just because I was afraid of
something that might not even happen.
I have to
say that there was really nothing special that day, except for
the feeling I had inside that I was turning a very important
corner in my life. There was no moment of epiphany, no
miracle in the form of something spectacular, no special contact
with God or any of his angels. The day started with a bowl
of oatmeal and some coffee and an english muffin. As it
went on, I read, worked on the computer, listened to music, and
thought about friends, wishing them in my mind a very happy
Christmas. I called my parents in the evening, and I might
have talked to some other people on the phone. But that
was about it.
important thing in my life, though, was the fact that that day
seemed to act as a kind of catharsis; it was some sort of peak
towards which I had been climbing for quite a while. That
day, it truly didn't matter that I was alone. I had a nice
place to live, I had work I loved, I had friends, I had food and
shelter, I had clothing and transportation, I had hope for the
future and the possibility of making hopes come true. Yes,
there were parts of my life that felt somewhat empty--I was
single and didn't want to be, I was working hours that precluded
doing a lot of things that I would have liked to have done. But
on that day it was very clear that the good outweighed the bad
so strongly that the negative was almost insignificant.
Pascal said that "All men's miseries derive from not being
able to sit in a quiet room alone," and on that day I
understood fully what he meant. On that day most of what
Emerson wrote about in "Self-Reliance" was clarified
for me--no one can bring us peace or hope or happiness. It
must come from within. I shouldn't depend on anyone else
for my happiness or contentedness--it can come only from within,
with some help from faith in a loving God. On that day I
didn't feel that I got closer to God--I felt that I finally let
Him get closer to me. I realized that I was just as worth
loving as anyone else He had created, and I let Him be a part of
my day. It was all pretty cool, to tell you the truth.
the day came to an end, and I went to bed with the Christmas
tree lights on. I slept on the couch so that the tree
could keep me company. And I went to bed a much wiser
person, thankful that I had obeyed the calling to spend the day
alone. I had learned more from that one day than I could
have in a year of Christmas days spent in crowds.
my life was different after that day--it wasn't just a one-day
thing. I found it very easy to be much more accepting of
many aspects of my life, especially the loneliness of being
single. Interestingly enough, I met the woman who would
become my wife the following summer, and from the moment I met
her, I was able to treat her differently than I would have been
able to had I not become so accepting of being alone. And
I'm convinced that the way I was able to treat her had
everything to do with her eventually becoming my wife. And
I have that Christmas day alone to thank for it.
cure for all the illness of life is stored in the inner depth of life
the access to which becomes possible when we are alone.
This solitude is a world in itself, full of wonders and resources
unthought of. It is absurdly near; yet so unapproachably distant.
is the poverty of self,
solitude is the richness of self.
We sense that there can be no true
communion between human beings
until they have in fact become beings: for to be able to give
must have taken possession of oneself in that painful solitude outside of
which nothing belongs to us and we have nothing to give. . . . And one
might even say that I begin to communicate with others as soon as I
begin to communicate with myself. So true it is that the most tragic
solitude is that which keeps me from forcing the barrier between what
I think I am from what I am: because then my consciousness has
become such a stranger to my true self and my distress is so great that
I can no longer say what I desire nor what I lack. Solitude is
the presence in oneself of a power that cannot act, but which, as soon
as it is able to, obliges me to realize myself by multiplying my relations
with myself and with all human beings.
Le Mal et la Souffrance
seems so much fuller than alone time. It has the added
elements of peace and time. Busy mothers can get alone time,
and yet they would open a vein for solitude.
gives us time to let our hair down and see what we need, do what
we need, and have the quiet to explore its benefits. When we
have alone time, we can take a quiet bath. When we have
solitude, we can use the quiet bath to explore what we need to
do with our solitude.
people may be able to squeeze in alone time now and again. And
people who are living in balance require solitude. Solitude
is that quiet mist of peacefulness that enters our ears and makes
its own music, enters our eyes and creates its own art, and enters
our pores and imagines its own muse.
returns us to ourselves while expanding us beyond our
boundaries. Solitude is precious and essential.
for Living in Balance
seeking solitude--quality time spent away
from family and friends--may seem selfish. It is not.
Solitude is as necessary for our creative spirits to develop
and flourish as are sleep and food for our bodies to survive.
It is a difficult
lesson to learn today--to leave one's
family and deliberately practice the art
for an hour
or a day or a week. And yet,
once it is done,
I find there is a
quality to being
alone that is
incredibly precious. Life rushes
into the void,
richer, more vivid, fuller than before.
remember my grandfather telling me how each of us must live
with a full measure of loneliness that is inescapable, and we must not
destroy ourselves with our passion to escape this aloneness.
gives us an irresistible desire for solitude.
It allows us to come
in touch with him.
We begin with a time and a place for God.
freed from our slavery to the approval and gratitude of others and our
need to see ourselves as important.
After we meet God in the inner depths
of our soul, we see the world with a new light.
We can then enjoy our
regular activities in their proper perspective.
Silence will begin to speak
loudly and we will not be able to ignore the voice of God calling to us.
Activity and busyness often hide Godís voice, and if we do not leave
the hustle and bustle behind, we will have a difficult time hearing
him calling us along our lifeís journey.
Esther Carls Dodgen
can cultivate an inner solitude and silence that sets us free
from loneliness and fear.
Loneliness is inner emptiness.
is inner fulfillment.
Solitude is not first a place but a state of mind
There is a solitude of heart that can be maintained at
Crowds or the lack of them have little to do with this inward
It is quite possible to be a desert hermit and never
But if we possess inward solitude we will not fear
being alone, for
we know that we are not alone.
Neither do we fear
being with others, for they
do not control us.
In the midst of noise
we are settled into a deep inner silence.
Teresa of Avila
Wise people are never less alone than when they
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|Yes, I felt closer to my
fellow human beings, too, even in my solitude. For it is not
physical solitude that actually separates one from others, not
physical isolation, but spiritual isolation. It is not the
desert island nor the stony wilderness that cuts you from the
people you love. It is the wilderness in the mind, the
desert wastes in the heart through which one wanders lost and a
stranger. When one is a stranger to oneself than one is
estranged from others, too. In one is out of touch with
oneself, then one cannot touch others. How often in a large
city, shaking hands with my friends, I have felt the wilderness
stretching between us. Both of us were wandering in arid
wastes, having lost the springs that nourished us--or having found
them dry. Only when one is connected to one's own core is
one connected to others, I am beginning to discover. And,
for me, the core, the inner spring, can best be refound through
Anne Morrow Lindbergh
order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on
occasion; in order to serve others better, one has to hold them at a
distance for a time. But where can one find the solitude necessary
to vigor, the deep breath in which the mind collects itself and
courage gauges its strength? There remain big cities.
2 - solitude 3
|Solitude is a way to defend the spirit against
the murderous din of our materialism.
Our equal and
opposite needs for solitude and community constitute a great
paradox. When it is torn apart, both of these life-giving states of
degenerate into deathly specters of themselves. Solitude split off
community is no longer a rich and fulfilling experience of inwardness;
now it becomes loneliness, a terrible isolation. Community split off
solitude is no longer a nurturing network of relationships; now it becomes
a crowd, an alienating buzz of too many people and too much noise.
Parker J. Palmer
The Courage to Teach
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|Solitude, if rightly
used, becomes not only a privilege but a
necessity. Only a superficial soul fears to fraternize with itself.
Alice H. Rice
strength; to depend on the presence of the crowd is
weakness. The person who needs a mob to nerve him or her
is much more alone than he or she imagines.
best of all is to Be alone to experience one's soul in Silence.
To be nakedly alone, unseen, is better than anything in the world,
a relief like death. To Be--alone--is one of life's greatest