Long Journey Home ~ Befriending Solitude

If you’re caught in the quandary of just getting to know solitude it can be an unwelcomed guest. It is an awkward relationship with life that you thought so unlikely you never gave it any thought and you were probably not apt to search it out on your own. solitude1You have so little in common you’re confident it will soon be on its way in favor of all the more familiar, busy relationships you’re so accustomed to.

You might not be anything like me but, if you are, life was so busy doing all of the things expected by others it was enough for everyone else to need you. You prided yourself on being a realist and in your busy world there wasn’t space to indulge your most inner thoughts. Somehow that full but starkly blank slate became who you are. (To this day I find no particular fault in that, as long as the busyness of life doesn’t hiccup and it always does eventually.)

When solitude replaces all of that noise and you’re engulfed by its dead silence you have no choice but to confront You. What a strange and uncomfortable concept you find it to be. Where do you start? What do you like? Are you too old? You habitually do things you don’t want to do but they’re so much a part of your blank slate you mindlessly do them, because that’s so much of who you were you don’t even realize you do have choices.

If only from the exhaustion of fighting against it, you begin to relax in solitude’s arms. Apprehensively but eager to find the niche you’ve been missing, you charge into trying one new thing and when that doesn’t work you try another. Fear & frustration temps worry that you might not have a real you anymore or, if you do, it’s buried so deep you may never find it, so you rearrange your habitual doings to at least give them a flare of your own tastes. You don’t realize it, but that’s the beginning.

Just when you’re convinced that surely you were never meant to befriend solitude, nor it, you, out of sheer necessity you allow her to coddle you with gradual, methodical understandings. Those mindless choices you were making take on new dimensions. You alter some and eliminate others more to your liking and you’re surprised that you are surprised life doesn’t fall apart because you do.

Solitude cracks open windows then eases open doors and you learn to breath her in. You realize you don’t have to go looking for ‘new things,’ but only to relax in the solace of her for the You you’re trying to find to emerge. Like a newfound love, you want to be with her, because you know there’s more and the more she teaches the more you want to learn.

solitude3After years of only a distant friendship with solitude and she not being the well-mannered guest you thought, you struggle through awkwardly long annoyances of playing hospitable hostess. But somehow in the process she transformed herself into a love worth having (for a change): trustworthy, knowing your deepest intimacies, forgiving your most outrageous flaws, her presence making sense of all that didn’t make sense before. She nurtures you with a forgiving kindnesses that you never thought to give yourself, her cool freshness as a deep green ivy spawning new branches of life against the blank surface that was your time-worn wall.

I can still find solitude complex and overwhelming. But she is less alien now, not the unwelcomed emptiness she was a year ago, six months ago … last week. Understanding the necessity of knowing her is often quite enough. The fact that you have known her is more than you ever thought you could know, now that you do.

 

In response to WordPress Daily Prompt, “Solitude.”

 

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