We often get swallowed up by our surroundings. When a person is faced with the environment beyond, a relationship forms between the individual and the expansive space. We want solitude to notice the smallest things in our lives, to stay immediate to our surroundings. Daily distraction can be so fragmenting, so addictive, and the kind of attentive patience we seek requires clarity of mind. To be able to find this clearheadedness, we must make a commitment to do so. Say no to the constant, frenzied consumption of 'needs' which more often than not are wants and excess cravings.
I feel most acutely present when I am away from the noise, when my circumstances pare down all unnecessary clutter. In grim times I take a drive, always somewhere with unfenced expanses and wildness in which I can lie, think, and breathe freely. Being able to get away from the city and find myself in a place where everything around me represents simplicity. This is when I am completely content with nothing but words, a pen and paper, the outdoors, my hands, my eyes. I return from these respites feeling placid, viable, and ready to make something good of myself and the craft I have chosen to fill my life with.
These moments of relative aloneness give us the freedom of choice. To choose the way we want to live, in spite of circumstance. We shape ourselves through daily decisions, so make them earnestly and carefully. Do not easily fall into patterns that feel obligatory, they are a habit of convenience. We must punctuate our days with actions that will turn us towards gratefulness, revitalizing our eyes to see the goodness around.
Now not many of us have the luxury of true time away; some not as often as we'd like, and for some not ever. Daily life clamors on. Our responsibilities are overwhelming. We become folded into busyness, worrying about the stresses of life, what we will make of ourselves. It's difficult to hold a grasp of ourselves in this cycle, because as we accomplish one task another has been given. We will always fall into this cycle of continuous work unless we make it a priority to actively venture off— even if it's only for an hour— to be able to reassess and renew.
A creative mind loves solitude, but we do not want to remain there forever. Solitary times fortifies us to listen more clearly and to love better when we are in the presence of others. We are meant to commune together, which means to empathize, to relate to, to be close with. We spend time alone to cultivate our own joy and well-being, for the sake of becoming something worthy of sharing with others. We need others in our life to learn and grow from. It's a balance between solitude and being surrounded by friends who are only there to lift our spirits and remind us of the people we are. Good friends push us towards greatness and evoke emotions we may have pushed aside or may not have realized we have forgotten. But we must not always rely on our friends to be our aide-mémoire. We must find the strength to always push and motivate ourselves. This is the importance of solitary time.
Photograph by Maja Norrman