“Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
I know that I am strong. There is no doubt about it. To go through what life has handed me on a silver platter these past few years, and still be standing could only mean that I am strong. I didn’t always think so, but I’ve learned to believe in my strength. If I had the chance to go back in time and make changes, I wouldn’t change anything because so many beautiful gifts and so much understanding and growth has come out of this. But I must admit – I am tired. I’m tired of having to be the strong one, of always having to chug ahead no matter what and having to make decisions and take responsibility for a lot. I am reaching the point where I am too tired to think and talk. When I’m really tired I tend to go silent. It isn’t that I’m avoiding people, or I have nothing to say. I find that it just requires a lot of energy to line up all my thoughts in order to form them into sentences. I don’t have that energy at the moment, and so I just let those thoughts swirl and swirl around in my mind hoping that they’ll wear themselves out eventually and stop. So, please don’t think I’ve been quiet because of you. It’s not you, really, it’s me.
So, what I’ve found out is that when I’m silent and wanting to be left alone, people get suspicious. Trying to be alone becomes difficult, and I find that the opposite actually happens. Because of my solitude, I am constantly apologizing or explaining my wanting to be alone. People seem confused with the reason for why I crave it so much. So I sometimes wonder why so many people are afraid to sit for a while alone without distractions, what are they afraid of that will happen? It’s when I silence the blaring lights and mind numbing sounds of my daily life that I find that I can actually hear what life is truly trying to teach me, what has taken residence in my heart and is desperately trying to be communicated to me. I find that at that moment things are no longer distorted and I can see the situations in my life for what they really are. They are no longer mean and scary, and this is where I can gather up the strength and courage needed to take me through the next phase which I will be facing. The only way I can understand this big, gigantic, and yet small world is to once in a while turn away from it, and retreat inward.
Please don’t think I’m some kind of hippy or monk. I don’t sit on the floor in a yoga pose, or sit under an apple tree and say “Peace, Dude.” I go on with my daily chores as normal. I still go to work, run errands etc. I just modify a few things. I place my Blackberry on phone calls only – and respond only to urgent things. Although I can’t stop doing everything, I do try to reduce the amount things that I do, because it’s unrealistic to think otherwise. I just don’t speak with anyone. I stay quiet. I listen to what my body tries to tell me. I may listen to the radio or watch TV, but most of the time I don’t because I find that with the silence around me, the noise tends to be intrusive. I just veg out.
You’re probably wondering what the heck I’m talking about, so let me explain what solitude means to me. I believe that the silence is a way to rest the mind. Silencing the mind is to my spirit what sleep is to my body. I don’t know about you but I know that I can’t go without sleep for too long because my body will break down, and the same holds true with my mind. Silence provides nourishment and refreshment. Going too long without providing it with what it requires makes it go mushy. This is when depression sets in, situations become extreme and to difficult to be in and everything is thrown out of proportion – bigger, scarier and more complicated that they actually are. To retreat inwards is difficult at times though, because sometimes I am forced to face not so nice things about myself and others. I see the true nature of people, different from what I originally thought about them, almost like devils are disguised as angels, and angels are disguised as devils. Being in silence allows for my spirit to tell the difference, since I am not wrapped up in the drama of the situations.
My times of solitude are gifts wrapped in many different sizes, some are happy, sad and many are suffering. But it’s the times when I go through the darkness, the lonely, intense and horrible darkness and I struggle to express my pain, unable to comprehend, and my efforts to put words on paper that I find it to be most effective. Through these times I am forced to be patient with myself, to endure and believe in the simplicity of it all, as life is so hectic most of the time. With the difficulty of the silence grows a confidence in life and me, which allows me to loosen the reins of control and let life happen to me. Because most times, life knows exactly what needs to happen, and the path is shown to me while in silence.
There is a pattern with this I have noticed too. I don’t think about wanting to go into solitude, it just happens. In the beginning there is a sense of joy as I begin to notice that I am preparing for the future, what is to come. Then with action, anxiety then sets in as efforts are made to make changes to my life. After this comes weariness, discouragement and then, once again, flight into solitude. Sounds crazy really, why would I want to go into solitude again? Why? Because of the joys which is felt. There is meaning to all of this.
The secret of why I go into solitude, besides reflecting, growing and gaining strength and courage is that it gives birth to my creativity. All the pain it causes me, these are gifts to me. It is a place where I am able to go alone; I’m unable to bring anyone with me. This world we live in is starved for solitude, silence and privacy – even in midst of the very unfamiliar circumstance. There I am able to find all my paths, my healing and my peace. My solitude is my home.