One of the skills I acquired from my solo travels was the art of solitude. Many times people had asked me “Aren’t you lonely?”, when we talked about my solo travels, and I would say yes, and no. I would be lying if I said never, as there are many times I wish there is someone with me to share a beautiful moment, to revel in a breathtaking view or to celebrate a serendipity. It is true that happiness shared is doubled. There were also times when I wished someone was there when I was down, or sick or in some kind of trouble. It is also true that sadness shared is halved.
Still, there are times when I really enjoyed the company of myself. There is no need for small talk, no need for compromise and no need for any sort of external interaction. You do not need any plans or any discussions, everything is done on the whim and in the moment just as you wish. These are one of the many good things about travelling solo. You just do what the hell you want and when.
But I digress, I am here to talk about the art of solitude. Besides my solo travels, I have also the opportunity to work with myself on a project and spent most of my time alone in the house trying to work things out and at the same time work myself out. I believe my prior short solo travels had helped me to cope with this solitary endeavour that I could never otherwise have done. After that I have also travelled extensively again alone to “find myself” and in the end, I went for a 10 days meditation to sort the whole mind thing out.
I am by nature an introvert, despite many friends would beg to differ, as I know myself. I spent many times in my childhood, after my interactive stint at my nanny’s, alone with myself and my thoughts. I pored over many books over many times, doing self-discovery in imaginary worlds with imaginary people or beings. I have no problem at all as a child living alone in the house in between school and when my family comes home. Now in this retrospect, I might have already honed the skills of solitude since then without realising it. Still, I was a child that was happy in her solitary explorations.In solitude, one can understand oneself much better. Questioning one own’s thoughts and beliefs and not always in the mode of explaining yourself or trying to defend yourself, sometimes to a fault. It is also good to learn to be at peace with yourself. To accept things the way they are. To accept self the way you are. It is also good to understand how your mind works and your own strengths and weaknesses. With solitude comes the understanding of self and with that comes maturity and finally at some point, wisdom.
We can never truly master our own thoughts, meditation had thought me that much. I learnt to listen to my own thoughts and find that it has a mind of its own, pun sort of intended and that I don’t have that much control over it as I have thought before. Free will is an illusion and free thoughts are themselves elusive yet somehow a little creative. We know we make our thoughts but sometimes we ask, is it our thoughts that made us?
To this, I conclude, being able to appreciate solitary moments is one of the gifts of life. We were born alone in the womb* and we all die alone in the end. If we cannot reconcile this matter, we are then lost to ourselves. Although I do think that the meaning of our lives on this earth depends on others, the relationships and the difference we made in the lives of others, our true self is still inside ourselves. We are all interconnected yet we are also all individuals.
Love made the meaning of our lives here meaningful but solitude brings everything into perspective. Without it, we live without immersing, we sort of exist instead of conscious living. Only by accepting ourselves can we move to accept others in our lives and to give ourselves into theirs. Only by embracing solitude can we truly appreciate our relationships with others. Only by living alone can we truly live together with all the others.
* in exceptions to twins, triplets and so on.