Like many, I enjoy the holiday season.
I enjoy all of it: the build up to the big day, the decorating and all the rituals that come with Christmas.
However, one thing I notice more than ever during this time of year is my need for solitude.
I say need because that is exactly what it is. While I enjoy the company of other and indeed even thrive on it, I need my alone time.
I need it now more than ever since I have two children and, like many, a complicated life on top of that.
For a long time, I felt guilty about this, especially when it meant taking time away from my children. I’d tell myself, “They’re only young once” or “They need me.” This is true, but spending an hour or two or away from them every week wasn’t going to damage them.
I also came to the realization that it was unlikely that the world is going to end during that time.
For a long time I thought being alone was enough—but I noticed that when I got those few precious alone hours I often tended to fill them with doing stuff…like organizing my mail or doing something else so it appeared that I was being productive.
I soon realized that this went against the very need for having solitude in the first place.
While there’s nothing wrong with doing any of these things, one of the main reasons I needed solitude in the first place was to free myself from the feeling that I needed to do something. It wasn’t even about trying to do something or even trying to sort through the 20 or so things going through my monkey mind; rather, it was all about taking a break from the world around me and just letting whatever was present be.
It sounds simple, but it’s actually far harder than it sounds especially during the holiday season when it often seems impossible to escape from anything much less people.
However, it is possible to find that solitude, and one doesn’t even need to physically be away from people to do it. Instead, it’s about detaching from the things around us. It’s about observing rather than participating or sometimes, not even participating but just going about on our own despite what’s around us.
In fact, some of the best places I have ever found to practice this has been, ironically, around large groups of people who happen to be near me, but I am not actually part of a specific activity or event.
When I lived in London, I called this “people watching” even though most of the time I was not actually watching them that much.
For that live in or near the country, it may be even easier to find this solitude.
However, no matter where we happen to be, it’s important that those of us who have a need for this type of solitude to find it not just during the holiday season but beyond it.
It may just well be the best gift we give ourselves this season.
Author: Kimberly Lo
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: BaoTri Photography/Flickr