Reflections on Solitude

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Solitude. It is the sacred elixir of the immortals; even a modicum of this precious elixir now and again can restore harmony and balance to one’s life. By solitude, I refer not to that state of being where one is alone while taking recourse in the Internet, television, movies, or even books. Certainly, these all have their place and their value but that is not solitude. Solitude, as I am defining it here, refers to that act of being by oneself exactly as one is, no frills, no extras, and nothing superfluous. This type of solitude requires an unplugging from the sensory stimuli that pervade our contemporary society.

The inane distractions that our contemporary society provides with great felicity make it all too easy for the individual to become entirely disconnected from their own thoughts and emotions; a process of self-dissimulation is occurring. Countless observations of this phenomenon are available to be witnessed on a day-to-day basis. How many times do you see someone walking down the street or sitting on the bus wearing an iPod? The proliferation of televisions is another example; they are now to be found everywhere from gyms to elevators. One can’t even enter a bookstore (a bookstore!) without being bombarded by the sounds of Top 40 radio. The distractions are everywhere, and this cursory approach to life has made it a rare treasure indeed to find an individual who is genuinely comfortable in their own skin.

My tone here is not meant to be sardonic, nor my aim to be accosting, nor my purpose to demonstrate the inexorable decline of the world in which we live. My intentions are simply these: to illustrate the benefits of occasionally withdrawing from society and taking refuge in solitude—one need not become a hermit or a recluse— and to point out the benefits, nay, the necessity of embarking on a quest of self-realization. Certainly, at this juncture, the majority of readers will be quick to point out the impracticalities of such an approach due to the many duties and responsibilities of worldly life. It is, also, precisely at this juncture that those such as myself, for whom the quest of self-realization is of the utmost import, are labeled idealists, as dreamers whose footing is no longer grounded in reality.

Perhaps, I am something of a quixotic. Perhaps, it is due to a sensitive temperament, an ability that is at once a gift and a willingness to surrender to the exigencies of my soul. Yet, it is precisely this acquiescence to the callings of my inner voice that has given me dreams and longings, hopes and joys, and has continued to propel me forward. It is, also, this self-same inner voice that urges me to share these dreams and longings, hopes and joys, with others, and that has inspired me to write this panegyric in praise of those worthy and courageous individuals who fearlessly seek the depths of their being.

In our world, spirituality has become the realm of dilettantes, those in search of a quick fix without a willingness to seek the depths. This approach epitomizes the fear of introspection that plagues the common man or woman of our day. Yet, there is an inner sanctum that is available to all, and in which very few dwell. It is solitude that is the key that is capable of opening the gateway to this inner sanctum, of restoring harmony and balance, and of providing not only clarity and insight but purpose and meaning as well. It is that all too precious elixir of solitude, the holy nectar of the gods, which is capable of arousing the inner phoenix that resides latent within each and every one of us and is only waiting to rise from the ashes, to spread its wings, and to soar.