There is a bittersweetness in solitude. A loneliness, strength and freedom. Solitude itself is elusive in today’s cacophony of distraction.
I remember days of traveling through Europe and sitting in a café for hours by myself writing longhand letters, journaling and reading newspapers and books. Remember writing letters by hand? It was glorious. There was no email, no cell phones. It was expensive to call people on the phone, so we limited it to once a week or so. Instead, we wrote letters. Long letters. Thoughtful and deep letters.
One could feel solitude walking through a crowded city by oneself. No podcast playing in your ear. People were not staring down at their phones. On public transit you either sat quietly, looking around, talked with another person or read something. There was so much more time to just be, without additional distraction and input.
I am craving that level of solitude. I want to wean myself from being so plugged in, literally with headphones in my ears.
Recently, I had the tremendous pleasure of discovering Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke. It brought me right back to those days before the internet and cell phones when solitude was within reach. Written at the turn of the 20th century, these letters give mystical power to the expanse of solitude.
Taking time for solitude is easier for some of us (without children at home or elders to care for), but to carve out a slice each day is possible for all of us. Whether it is a 10-minute meditation in the morning, a solo hike in nature or just some time sitting without other stimulation or input.
I’ve mentioned before an exercise that my coach, Sharon Day, assigned to me several years ago. I have repeated it many times and each time I am in awe of the value. It is simply to take 30 minutes and do nothing. You can sit and have a view outside, but don’t read or talk with another person or listen to anything. Just be. Don’t even try to meditate. Let your thoughts come and go where they will.
This year, my overarching theme is to be more. Less doing and more contemplating. Instead of speeding and skimming through my life, I want to let it soak in.
Wishing you times of solitude this week and beyond!
P.S. As a follow-on from the Ignite Your Life sessions, I am now hosting weekly planning on Fridays at noon PT. You are welcome to join us! If you’d like to sign up, register here. There is no cost or prerequisite to participate.
The weekly practice is at the heart of Living ROI. Consciously planning your days makes the difference between life happening to you versus you making life happen the way you want it. This is where the magic comes in!
We use the Living ROI: A Weekly Guide for Soulful Living journal. You can print out the weekly planning pages, fill it in online or order a physical book on Amazon.
I hope to see you there!