The glory of solitude

“Alone, even doing nothing, you do not waste your time. You do, almost always, in company. No encounter with yourself can be altogether sterile: Something necessarily emerges, even if only the hope of some day meeting yourself again.” ~Emil Cioran

I have had the glorious opportunity to spend the last two days completely alone. I’ve had a few short phone conversations and some online exchanges of various kinds (text messages, emails, instant messages, Facebook conversations), but I have not actually been in the company of another person for two days. And it’s been good.

Some of this time alone was due to canceled plans because I wasn’t feeling well. All of the time alone was entirely by my own choice and was quite fruitful. I had a lot of processing to do, and I think I’ve made some real progress in several areas during this time.

To most people, this time would look remarkably unproductive. I’ve managed to complete only a few household chores. I haven’t run any of the errands I needed to run. I did get a few things done for my business (including booking a client – yay!). But for having had two full days at home, it doesn’t look like there’s much that’s been accomplished. I even spent most of that time away from the computer!

I wrote extensively in my journal. I talked out loud to myself. I curled up in a ball and stared out the window. I paced the floor as if movement could fuel my thoughts.

The real work has all been internal, and that is what has made this time so valuable. I have to agree with Emil Cioran on this one; I’ve never spent time alone that was wasted. I almost always come away from time spent in company feeling like the time was wasted. (The exception to this, for me, is time spent one-on-one with someone I have a close relationship with.)

I used to really beat myself up for being this way, but I am slowly coming to accept and appreciate my delight in spending time alone. Yes, I know this makes it challenging for me to fit in and challenging at times for people to get to know me, but I can live with that, I think, because I am better off for having the time alone. It makes me a better person, and it fills my life with such places of richness when I have the space to ponder and process and chew on ideas. It’s the time alone that allows me to come back in touch with who I really am when I have the time to escape all the noise of who other people think I should be so that I can just be with no pressure to be anything else.

Tomorrow I head back into the fray of dealing with other people, and I will do so with my own sense of self that much more centered for having this time alone. Life is good, and I am so fortunate to have the chance to make space for solitude this way.

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