Call it solitude. And it sounds like something you require, like a meal, or a nap. Solitude sounds spiritual, grounded and strong. Like a choice. It sounds rich and luxurious, even though it’s essential for our creativity, our relationships and our well being.
We are communal animals. And with so many of us living in close proximity, if not within the confines, of big cities, we have cultivated huge circles of friends and have people around us all the time. Community is important. Through experience we gather ideas and inspiration. But to create from a place of authenticity, perhaps we need to be alone. Being alone reminds us of the power and authority we have over our own lives and over the way we spend our time.
I never bought into the image of the tortured writer, holed up in her attic tapping away on the keys of a broken-down Smith-Corona. The writer needs to get out of her attic and see the world in order to have anything to write about. She needs to experience the ways in which she’s different than everyone else in order to have any motivation to share her own story. The cosmic joke is that the torture can sometimes start when you sit down and you’re only left with yourself and a blank page. But it’s in those moments when the brilliance arrives. The muse. The genius. And you know you did it all on your own. You birthed those words, that art, into being.
To show up fully in your job, in your life, you need those moments of aloneness to recharge, to reacquaint with your inner dialogue and follow your inner voice. When you return to your desk or to those your love, you do so with increased knowledge and confidence.
To find solitude is easy. You don’t need anything. Plant yourself. Put on the music, pull out the book, just be. You can even find solitude in the presence of others, across the diner table your husband reads the Post as you read New York Magazine in a greasy-spoon in Queens. Dip into solitude whenever you need it. And you do need it.