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The week of my birthday this year, I found myself wanting some quality solitude.
I found this peculiar. Why is it that after spending these months being quarantined from the world at large, I craved alone time? Does anyone else find this funny or odd or relatable?
I felt that my soul needed a break from all the noise on my phone screen, and dare I say it…any more wine. So I ventured out to the Waterfront in downtown San Diego. The sun was beaming, friends were lounging, and everyone was soaking in a simpler life. The great outdoors became our dearest friend this year.
Though everyone was together in this one area, the energy couldn’t have felt more disconnected. We were all in our little bubbles of solitude. In a way, I couldn’t have been happier! There I was with my fresh cherries, my notebook, and no one to bother me. I wanted a moment (or 10) to reflect and breathe in the fresh air, something I learned I needed an abundance of during these pandemic days.
I wondered why this felt like such a feat—to find the stillness and the internal peace that is so deeply necessary. During my exploration of finding these moments for myself, it brought me to the realization that my most precious moments of clarity and refreshment require no difficultly and no cost, and always brings full gratification! It’s effortless. And really, I can only achieve this stillness, fully, when I allow myself to find solitude.
I know I’m not alone in missing social life. Making plans to see friends on the regular, traveling, holiday gatherings, not having to wait in lines, concerts (My goodness, how I ache for the days we can see live performances again), going to a bar and grabbing a drink (Remember that? We used to make big plans just to sip on an overpriced cocktail)—that is all great, and fun, and required even. We are social beings after all.
But isn’t stillness required of us too? Isn’t solitude necessary from time to time?
For some, maybe that’s a big realization—a fearful, confusing, uncertain, lonely, and foreign one. At first, I had to ask myself what solitude and stillness even meant. Was it sitting at home, staring at the walls, with nothing to do and nowhere to go all. day. long? Sure, but I had hoped that wasn’t all it meant.
I don’t know about you, but I have a whole newfound love and understanding of how I define stillness and solitude. Everyone’s experience is different.
To me, solitude doesn’t equal loneliness, and stillness doesn’t mean inactive.
What I’ve discovered is that stillness is a form of listening and solitude is like a weekend getaway for self-understanding, healing, and reflection. All of which can be scary unknown territory.
Because stillness and solitude bring truth.
And when we get real with ourselves and enter into that glorious pit of vulnerability, our truest self is revealed. This brought on a revitalized outlook on how I spent my days when being alone and quiet was the new trend. I found myself wanting more substantial, quality, and intent-filled days. Instead of escaping, I explored. Rather than hiding away, I leaned in. I exposed the truth and embraced all that felt uncomfortable. This is how I started to trust myself more than ever before.
The power we can find within our truth can lead us further than we can imagine. Give yourself permission to be silent and discover what lies deep beneath. Sit, breathe, be present, ask questions, be curious, and pay attention with no judgment. Even if it’s scary, it can only bring you light and liberation.
The truth will set you free, dammit. Every time.
And free I will be—even while I stay at home. The biggest reward is knowing that I like hanging out with myself! That sounds selfish, I know. Think about it, though. If everything was taken away (and it seems like this past year did exactly that), what’s left is you. Connection with others is absolutely important, but how can I do that properly if I’m not first connected with myself? We must get to know and love ourselves. We must learn how to trust ourselves more than anyone else.
I recognize none of this has been easy for anyone. There has been grief, suffering, loss, heaviness, confusion, and so much more. I am aware this is maybe an unpopular opinion because, yep, I get it, we’re over it and want things to go back to normal.
I’ll admit that a part of me says it too. But if I’m honest with myself, I don’t want things to go back to normal. The normal we knew was far from where we need to be. There’s a lot of work to do, but I wholeheartedly believe it has been a year of reconciliation. And it starts with each of us individually.
It’s a season of coming home. Literally, but mostly, metaphorically and spiritually. A time to return home to the divine self. One where stillness and solitude mean traveling internally and seeking truth and harmony. Then, that peace can be shared and lived externally.
I can feel punished, I can complain, and I can get drunk, but I choose otherwise. When all that stuff gets too noisy, I remind myself to be still and be with me. Right now, there seems to be no other way. And honestly, being at home, in all the ways, can be pretty great.
I encourage all of us to continue finding these intentional moments of solitude and stillness when the soul is craving them, even when the world regains its momentum again.
It is a lifelong practice. The more we can honor it now, the closer to home we will be.
And I have hope; I know that we are already on our way home.
See ya there. (I’ll bring the wine.)