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Being Alone

Contrasts in an uncertain time

· Attention,Books

I've just begun reading Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words by David Whyte. I am choosing one word a day to contemplate. I find the language challenging but as I read, and re-read the passages I begin to feel the words and discover new insight.

The book begins with Alone.

"The first step in spending time alone is to admit how afraid of it we are." David Whyte

Alone doesn't have to be a negative experience, although that can be hard for some to accept. For many the experience of being alone becomes about rejection, abandonment, not fitting in and feeling lonely. It's very normal for people to need to put on the radio, or the TV, or have music in their ears to block out the feeling of being alone.

Perhaps there is a fear of what we might discover if we were to stay quiet and still, and alone with our own thoughts. Filling our day with noise, and people and busy-ness keeps the potential inner demons at bay. But the gifts of becoming comfortable with being alone are many. Personally, I have found greater inner peace, and self-acceptance and less need for external stimuli to make me feel okay. From this place, I feel more grounded and have more energy and ability to connect with the world.

During this weird time of Pandemic I am aware of the stark contrasts playing out in homes around the country. There are the people who are alone. They live alone and are now isolated alone. For some this may not be much change to their usual routine. They are happy in their own company and find their entertainment and meaning in life through things that don't involve much interaction with others. There will also be those living alone who are used to a busy social life with lots of interactions outside of their home, but now are having to adjust to a different way of being. And, of course, a range of people in between these extremes.

Then, there are the people living with others. It may be family, or friends, or housemates. For some, this is wonderful. A busy home full of people and chatter and activity. For others, who are used to their own solitude during the day when everyone else is out at school or work (or who usually live alone), this may be incredibly challenging. Where do they find their alone time? Is it okay to say 'I need to be alone'?

What can we do to support each other today? Maybe we need to begin by checking in with what it is we need. Do I need some alone time, do I need more connection time?

I don't believe we can just sit and wait for this to pass and things to be back to normal. We need to be honest with ourselves and those around us about what we need before tempers fray and emotional well-being begins to break down. Recognising what we need to support ourselves in the coming weeks is going to be invaluable, and from that place, we will be more able to be of service to others.

Do you need more or less alone time? And, how can you find the balance that works for you? What could you do differently?

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