“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived"
Henry David Thoreau
An ode to Solitude
We step out across the fields, a low slung mist lies ahead of us as if dangled on bits of imaginary string. There is an eery silence, as if the fog has hushed the world, just a lonely shriek from a buzzard hovering above. We plod onwards, down into a small valley lined with ancient oak trees, now golden in colour, preparing for a winter slumber. Slowly we make our way through these sentinels that have stood here for centuries and head upwards out of the valley up onto an escarpment and to our regular little spot to pause. Underneath the Oak that provides our shelter for a little spot of solitude, looking out across the river valley, flowing onwards as it always does. I rest my back against the tree and there it is, stillness.
In our hyper connected world, solitude has lost it's place, slipped away in our drive to stay connected, our fear of missing out or fear of simply being still. We have forgotten that in order to flourish and thrive, us humans need solitude, we are not designed to be constantly wired in, switched on and connected.
A balancing act
Each week for over a month now, I have been dedicating one day a week to completely switch off. This truly has been no easy task. I have spent the last decade being pretty much connected all the time, phone rarely turned off and always by my side and I am not on my own, we are now seeing whole generations that are constantly switched on, wired in.
As always, the answer is usually found in creating some balance, as humans, we need a fine balance of connection and solitude.
Time to allow our brains to power down, to rest, to find some stillness, maybe to embrace boredom again, without the need to distract and fill our time. Time to process things without more input. Like waiting for water to become still, to settle naturally and become mirror like, it just needs to be left alone, but so often we keep throwing a rock in.
Is it time to embrace switching off and finding some solitude? We really don't need to be in the middle of nowhere to experience solitude. It can be found in the middle of a busy street, on the drive home from work, on that little walk out in nature or whilst supping a cup of coffee staring out of the window, even walking from one room to another. Little moments of nothing special. I invite you to try it, carve into your day little pause moments, to allow your thoughts to float on by, feel your feet rooted on the floor, look, listen, be present, allow the questions to dissolve and you sink into the present moment, use these words if it helps,
Right now there is nowhere else I need to be
Right now there is nobody else I need to be
Right now I am enough.
As always, be kind to yourself, go gently.
Solitude is to there to be embraced, felt, honoured in our lives and balanced with connection. Explore be curious.
For now, I wish you well, if I go quiet from time to time, you know where I will be, under the tree of solitude, watching life unfold.