In Praise of Solitude
- Kamran Mofid
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Today, in the world gone mad with gadgets and the so-called “Social Media”, people everywhere, it seems have no time left for themselves. No time for solitude, contemplation, reflection, thinking and meditation.
In all, in the wise words of William Henry Davies:
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this is if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
Today, everybody, young and old, is constantly Facebooking, tweeting, texting, Iphoning, IPadding, emailing, surfing the net, Goggling, Amazoning, and watching TV. Supposedly busy or indeed pretending to be!
All this, supposedly, to making us feel as if we are connected. But, connected to what, to whom and for what purpose? We do not know!
A pertinent question surely should be "What happens when constant communication replaces thoughtful reflection?" I'm not saying that the immediacy of the Internet is harmful, but rather how we tend to thrive on it. Instead of engaging with each other or just ourselves, it seems we are seeking something "out there" while ignoring real sustenance for thought.
In this ‘busy’ world, when we are virtually constantly connected to somebody else, somewhere else, then, where is the time for solitude, contemplation and connection between ‘Myself and Me’? To my mind, this must be the biggest question we should all ask of ourselves.
After all, "solitude gives us room, at least in the mind, to take a break from the churn."
Popular, commercilised culture, it seems, is confused about solitude. The image of 'happiness', conveyed by television and advertising, is of a merry group of friends, while being 'alone' is considered almost synonymous.
Before I procceed further, let me say that by alone in solitude, I do not mean lonliness and isolation. There is a big difference between them.
1. Loneliness is a painful, negative state.
2. It is where we feel alone, and cut off and estranged from other people. Thus, we may feel as if we are excluded, unwanted, unimportant or unnoticed.
3. We can be surrounded by people we know and love and still experience feelings of intense loneliness.
4. Loneliness feels like punishment or rejection. It is rooted in a sense of deficiency or inadequacy.
5. It is something that depletes us, and is imposed on us.
6. Loneliness can lead to self rejection, and even to self loathing and despair.
1. Solitude is a positive state.
2. It is where we are perfectly happy to be by ourselves, and relish and enjoy our own company.
3. Solitude can help us get in touch with, or engage with, our true self. It allows us to reflect on ourselves, others, our life, and our future.
4. Often, solitude is a springboard to greater self-awareness, greater creativity, fresh insights, and new growth.
5. Solitude is something we choose. It is something that restores and builds us up.
6. Solitude grounds us in who we are – and that enables us to reach out and give to others, to be for the common good. (Source: onlinecounsellingcollege.com)
And now a short introduction to solitude:
What Is Solitude?
Loneliness is marked by a sense of isolation. Solitude, on the other hand, is a state of being alone without being lonely and can lead to self-awareness
‘As the world spins faster and faster—or maybe it just seems that way when an email can travel around the world in fractions of a second—we mortals need a variety of ways to cope with the resulting pressures. We need to maintain some semblance of balance and some sense that we are steering the ship of our life.
Otherwise we feel overloaded, overreact to minor annoyances and feel like we can never catch up. As far as I'm concerned, one of the best ways is by seeking, and enjoying, solitude.
Solitude is the state of being alone without being lonely. It is a positive and constructive state of engagement with oneself. Solitude is desirable, a state of being alone where you provide yourself wonderful and sufficient company.
Solitude is a time that can be used for reflection, inner searching or growth or enjoyment of some kind. Deep reading requires solitude, so does experiencing the beauty of nature. Thinking and creativity usually do too.
Solitude suggests peacefulness stemming from a state of inner richness. It is a means of enjoying the quiet and whatever it brings that is satisfying and from which we draw sustenance. It is something we cultivate. Solitude is refreshing; an opportunity to renew ourselves. In other words, it replenishes us.
We all need periods of solitude, although temperamentally we probably differ in the amount of solitude we need. Some solitude is essential; It gives us time to explore and know ourselves. It is the necessary counterpoint to intimacy, what allows us to have a self worthy of sharing. Solitude gives us a chance to regain perspective. It renews us for the challenges of life. It allows us to get (back) into the position of driving our own lives, rather than having them run by schedules and demands from without.
Solitude restores body and mind. Lonelinesss depletes them.’ (Source: psychologytoday.com, 1 July 2003)