“I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude. We are for the most part more lonely when we go abroad among men than when we stay in our chambers.” ~Henry David Thoreau, “Solitude,” Walden, 1854
Let’s think about being alone. Another word related to this idea is solitude. Are you comfortable being alone or “in solitude?”
When was the last time you spent some quality time with yourself? I know this may sound a little weird, but there is really only one person you ever have to live with and that person is YOU! In fact, you are the only person that is with you 24/7. Now, there is nothing profound about these statements, but I must admit that the thought of living with myself is relatively new to me. I, before now, just never thought much about it.
I have always wondered about hermits and how they were able to live a fulfilling life by themselves. As a child, I read about hermits and now frankly, I couldn’t imagine living their kind of life. You see, I converted to Catholicism when I was eleven years old. I did so because I wanted to. I was not pressured in any manner. I state this so you, as the reader, can better understand why I took the study of my new religion willingly and very seriously. While trying to learn as much as possible about Catholicism, I read the Bible and many other writings that sometimes referred to hermits.
In the old testament of the Bible, there is an implied and described way of life, now known as a desert theology, where hermits would seek God by living alone in the desert. Many early Christian hermits lived in the desert and generally, followed the desert theology way of life. As I learned about seeking God by being alone, I would often imagine myself as a hermit. Eventually, I rejected the idea of ever becoming one, but I still, to this day, wonder about such an existence.
It has been said that man is a social animal. How does a hermit live and still remain human? I suppose the hermit must be comfortable with the only person he has to live with — himself. Well, he is not alone — he has himself! :-)
Speaking of solitude, if you put prisoners in solitary confinement, then you are giving them extra punishment. Most of the prisoners that are placed in solitary confinement go a little crazy, but a few will use the time as a positive way to grow. Perhaps, the ones that go a little crazy, do so because they’re not used to being alone.
Too much solitude feels like a punishment, but some is absolutely essential, if we are to grow in a positive way. It is solitude that allows us to do the deep thinking needed for sorting life out. I have read that one reason therapy works so well is that it provides built-in time and structure to focus inward. Perhaps, this is the lesson in the often quoted statement from A Raisin In The Sun by Lorraine Hansberry: “Never be afraid to sit awhile and think.”
I have been sitting around and thinking about the only person I have to live with. What do you think of the only person you have to live?