“Solitude was my only consolation – deep, dark, deathlike solitude.” ~ Mary Shelley
“All man’s miseries derive from not being able to sit quietly in a room alone.” ~ Blaise Pascal
“The best thinking has been done in solitude.” ~ Thomas A. Edison
“Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god.” ~ Aristotle, ‘Politics’
“I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.” ~ Henry David Thoreau, ‘Walden’
An Experiment in Sharing Solitude
I often pursue important long pending tasks when I have other more pressing matters to attend to; pressing “matters of consequence“. While I procrastinate on that, here is an attempt to share the solitude of search, consumption and creation.
One day I realised that I experience too much all alone in my solitude which no one will ever know or discover simply because I’m too isolated and lazy to share. The journey from that realisation to today has been about 16 months. There is nothing ironic about that. Doing this takes a combination of shedding old skins and a sense of fatality, futility and meaninglessness. In a way, doing this is as meaningless as not doing it. So why not do it? Either way – its a zero sum game.
What do I hope to share here?
Discoveries, wonder, experiences, observations, critiques, processes, insights and lessons.
Something I worry about regularly is the amount of strength it takes to just be yourself in a society that is doing everything it can to hammer conformity out of you. Its dangerous to dissent, question and stand out to the point of ridicule and abuse. As it becomes more difficult to be yourself, your avenues to share and muse and debate and discuss close up and you withdraw. You do things – but for yourself. Because they matter to you; not because they make you look like a champion in the eyes of others. But there is always that eternal wish — “what if I could share and explain what I am doing and why… what if others could care.”
When everyone is seeking distractions, rarely do people find peace within themselves. We crave for company because that sort of existence is easier to get by than one that makes us confront and question ourselves. Maybe we crave for company because we seek validation for our choices – we are often too fearful to make unpopular choices unless we can purchase some concurrence for them. We spend too much time with others to be able to withdraw and be peaceful with our own selves. We don’t often know what to do with ourselves if we are left alone!
“Talent is nurtured in solitude … A creation of importance can only be produced when its author isolates himself, it is a child of solitude.” ~ Johann Wolfgang Von Göethe
“We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and private: and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.” ~ C.S. Lewis, ‘Weight of Glory’
Hence, the fundamental question becomes: how does one cultivate this hunger and urge to create so that solitude becomes welcome, necessary, enjoyable and less stigmatised.
I regularly wonder – what’s the point of doing all this… of doing anything? When mediocrity rules, what’s the point of trying to excel? When consumption would do and is convenient, what’s the point of creating something? When its easy to “buy”, why “build”? When it is so easy to fit in, why try to be authentic and hence invite ridicule, difficulty and suffering? Because the soul refuses to be suffocated easily?
I can extrapolate everything from a single concept: a desire to live with freedom and authenticity — the basic principle of caring about things, of wanting to be real (as opposed to being cosmetic), of suffering because you care to run your life in a certain way, based on a certain set of values and of suffering because you keep discovering that these values are so deeply entrenched in your psyche that they extend to just about everything you do.
In her book, “The Gift of Imperfection”, Brené Brown talks about authenticity and wholehearted living and vulnerability and shame and worthiness and more. She says:
“Perfectionism is a self destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame.”
solitude.io is an attempt to go beyond this habit of perfectionism. It is an attempt to talk authentically and of creating vulnerability without fear because: “staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection.” (Brown)
“To be nobody-but-yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody but yourself – means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight- and never stop fighting.” E.E Cummings
This is another step in that battle.