“Loneliness is marked by a sense of isolation. Solitude, on the other hand, is a state of being alone without being lonely and can lead to self awareness.” – Hans Estroff Marano
It would be interesting to find out how many people can tell the difference between being alone or being lonely. Alone is being able to enjoy one’s own company, being lonely is a health hazard of some kind, as the lonely persons blood pressure goes up as they try to leech on to anyone they can find. Then the blood pressure of the person who is being leeched on goes up too . While a good social life is important, it is essential to have quality time to yourself to maintain a balanced lifestyle.
Solitude transforms a person as it gives them a chance to pause between the events of daily life. The quality of these pauses is more important than the quantity. An example is Jesus who spent a good part of his evenings and nights alone in prayer and meditation. Another plus for solitude is that it gives a person the chance to take stock of their life, and decide which habits to change or release.
If a person finds solitude intimidating at first, they can start being alone in small portions of time. It can start by being alone in a favourite room at home, on a beach listening to waves lapping on the shore or spending time in a retreat house. The idea is to develop inner peace and calmness. So one doesn’t to travel to a faraway resort, you can create moments of solitude where you are at no matter where it is.
But how often, when faced with unstructured time, does a person start looking for chores to do, reach for the TV remote or something similar. External stimulation, in the shape of other people or day to day life, keeps a person from developing a rich internal life.
I feel fortunate in that loneliness is something I rarely feel. I enjoy my own company. I’ve found solitude replenishes me big time. When I’m up during the night I like taking predawn walks and get absorbed in the silence. I was able to get some perspective on a lot of things and get control of my own life and not get over run by other peoples demands.
Solitude restores, loneliness depletes, silence is golden.
By Ron Murdock