Therein Lies the Magic
As I venture along the rivers edge with Kula, we make our way up and over fallen logs, through thick bushes and branches, and wade through the shallows. We are searching for a good spot to cast the line.
I am drawn into the silence and solitude; I feel more alive out here, when the talking stops, when I venture out into the enormous emptiness of nature. I love silence. I crave it. Observing the picturesque beauty, listening to the water rushing beside me, watching eagles and herons swooping, and the stunning landscapes surrounding me.
Into the Wild
Looking back at my childhood, I notice where I got comfortable in solitude. Between my parents preoccupations, and experiencing rejection from my peers at school, it was often just me and my golden retriever… some things haven’t changed that much.
I do enjoy the company of others—love it at times. I consider myself a very personable human and I make connections with ease, but I reserve my energy and time for those who resonate with me and whom reflect sincerity and connection. When I give my presence to someone, it’s with my full heart. Perhaps a product of being hurt, but the wrong kind of company can be far lonelier than being by ourselves. And the fear of being alone can cause you to make some very wrong choices around the company you keep.
Gratitude in Solitude
The mystery of the untouched river bank draws Kula and I further, ducking through thick brush to discover hidden places that might not be tomorrow what they are today. Something about the persistent traveling river is soothing, it’s almost as if the rivers certainty bolsters my own.
A big salmon swims by my feet; it looks to be nearing the end of its life. We lock eyes for a moment and I feel the poignant humility of understanding we’re all on an individual journey through life. There is a beginning, a middle, and an end, and the fish’s life cycle mimics our own—a life that carries the excitement of adventure, purpose and aliveness; and the prospect of sadness that one day things will change.
Time in solitude allows you to reflect on your life. As you stand back with deliberate distance from the people and busyness of the world, you can relax and take it all in. A picture of your life as a landscape comes into focus, and a deepening sense of the connection to all its parts. You access feelings of gratitude for the times past, the people in your life, and for the time you have left.
The Solitude Spectrum
Solitude is a state that contains a vast spectrum of feelings. From one end being the source of infinite creativity; to the opposite a soul-crushing paralysis of loneliness. Everyone experiences loneliness from time to time, but if you can lean into the creative side of the spectrum, there is magic to be had.
I’ve found my most creative moments and ideas sparked in the moments of solitude. I focus on what I like to do, what brings me joy, and the ideas swirling around in my imagination. When you’re alone you have more time and freedom to immerse yourself in creative activities without external pressures. In these times of reflection and contemplation, privacy and solitude, of total silence; the solitude connects us to our emotions and flow state, which can be expressed potently through creative pursuits such as writing, playing music, painting, photography, etc.
As you see someone lying on their back, looking blankly up at the sky, you begin to wonder what’s wrong with them. Nothing is wrong—except they’re thinking—perhaps trying to arrive at some conclusion.
We are conditioned to believe that alone is weird, and that we must fit into social groups and find perfect lovers. If we are a catch and not in a relationship, we must surely be damaged. I think there is something interesting about the art of solitude—it doesn’t make you more antisocial but, on the contrary, better able to connect. When you don’t need the company of others, you choose consciously about you interactions. You become more intentional during your interactions. You have a greater appreciation for relationships, and improve your self-awareness, depth and discernment.
Spending time alone doesn’t have to mean isolated from humanity; and learning to enjoy solitude can in fact create better and more intentional relationships, and they will be freer ones.
In good company
Being alone doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with us. It might mean that we are being patient, until what truly resonates with us crosses our path. As we discover our own interests, enjoy the company of ourselves, we make peace with the possibility of a life on our own.
The ones who remain single shouldn’t be thought of as cold-hearted, commitment phobic, or too picky. They are perhaps the most romantic of all, and precisely why they are still alone; especially careful of not ending up in mediocre relationships or hurting someone else. Being alone spares you the constant reminder of how weird and difficult you can be—because we all are at times. No one is there to hold a mirror up and constantly make you accountable.
Lessons from Solitude
Venturing into solitude reminds us how to tap into our self-awareness, self-reliance, resilience and resourcefulness. All of these things strengthen our capacity to meet the challenges of everyday life, and our capacity to give to our relationships. The capacity to love is much greater in this space of purposeful presence. Here you can be as you really are and offer yourself fully to another—an honesty and clarity that brings out the real contours of each others soul. Where you feel understood, and you feel at home.