“The greatest thing in the world,
is to know how to be yourself.”
: Michel de Montaigne
Having spent the last four months
almost entirely by myself,
I wasn’t so concerned with greatness,
as maintaining sanity.
With sanity successfully maintained
(at pre-lockdown levels),
I’ve become accustomed to…
maybe even stimulated by…
the experience of solitude.
“When you think of solitude as a practice …
we actually start sculpting, refining, shaping,
the contours of our inwardness,
the contours of our interiority.”
: Stephen Batchelor
With an optimistic perspective,
it’s an amazing practice to explore.
Where thoughts ruminate,
and ideas start to germinate.
Where creative thought
has the room to breathe.
The space to practice,
and time to believe.
THE PRACTICE OF SOLITUDE
About a month ago, I was drawn to
the On Being podcast
in which Krista Tippett was talking to
Buddhist writer and scholar Stephen Batchelor
about his life, and his recent book
‘The Art of Solitude’.
Early in the conversation,
he elucidated upon the essence of his book;
“The practice of solitude,
is the practice of creating
an inward autonomy within ourselves,
an inward freedom from the power
of overwhelming thoughts and emotions.”
He draws upon his schooldays in England,
when he’d wonder;
“Why don’t they talk about what actually
it’s like to be a person, from the inside?
Why do they not talk about the things
we agonise about
in the playground after the class? “
And with reference to today’s
proliferation of media ‘noise’
coming from all angles,
he suggests an inner awareness
also cultivates a care or
“… ethical intelligence…”
for how we express ourselves outwardly;
“Solitude establishes the foundation for …
a more reasoned and reflective,
a calmer, a slower way of saying
and acting in ways that, hopefully,
others will find of value.”
And from a creative perspective;
“The art of being alone with yourself;
just being in your own company, and …
being OK with that.
Recognising that this is the source …
where your ideas begin.
That’s where your imagination,
all start to, as it were,
and find form.”
This uplifting clip of a solitary bean
captures this sensibility beautifully.
It’s raining outside
part of nature’s flow.
Leaves so green,
and the flowers grow.
No wind outside,
Rain’s coming straight down.
The quiet caressing,
of this solitude town.
A space with a blessing,
and thoughts to unwind.
The ongoing project,
of shaping your mind.
Moments of insight
and thoughts that we hide.
within where we reside.
Free your mind’s eye,
to go for a ride,
wherever you like;
how far and how wide.
A freedom of form.
To explore an idea.
Be excited by wonder,
and disengage with a fear.
The spark of a thought,
eyes raised from the frown.
A flood of ideas,
seductively swirling around.
The beauty of words;
a verb or a noun.
There’s wonder in this space
I’ve called ‘Solitude Town’.
“Solitude is the richness of self.”
: May Sarton
Heels worth wearing. Stories worth sharing.
Thank you for reading…
and if you feel so inclined,
please share with a friend
who may come to mind.
Have a beautiful night.
Title image by Faye Cornish on Unsplash