The Plight of Solitude

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I often do things alone. I tell everyone who asked ‘why’ that I love my own company, and I do. I enjoy the freedom of ‘not minding’ and ‘not caring’ of another. I enjoy the opportunity for introspection and contemplation, as if I don’t do it enough.

Why? These statements are simple enough, yet behind each of these simple statements is a world of meaning.

 

Solitude is companionable. I have done this since I was a teenager. A (loosely) self-labelled introvert, I never did have a crowd of friends, rather a few good friends. And like me, they are introverts and a serious bunch. We spoke of ‘things’, discussed ‘stuff’ and we had fun. Then we retreat to our own worlds for respite. I remember being entirely happy with this situation, despite others beyond my world looking at me with pity in their eyes because I was a “loner” and “friendless”. They would not comprehend why nor understand me.

“I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time. To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome and dissipating. I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.” ~ Henry David Thoreau, ‘Walden’

 

Solitude is freedom. There is a certain independence and freedom being in my own company. The connection to my inner self, if you would call it that, or to my thoughts, feelings, senses… is heightened when I am alone. Perhaps I am conditioned to be more social that I am – that in the company of others, my attention is to them and about them; and for a long time, this attention was also worrying about how they were and how they perceived me. With a degree of hard-fought self-awareness and inevitable age and maturity, I am comfortable in my own skin now.

A man can be himself only so long as he is alone, and if he does not love solitude, he will not love freedom, for it is only when he is alone that he is really free. ~ Arthur Schopenhauer

 

Solitude is nourishing. Cultural, gender and familial norms dictated my presence – to be attentive to others and to serve. I do care, I do serve, I do for others and only to the extent I can and in the circumstance within my control. Beyond this I am merely fretting and worrying, over-managing and to be frank, somewhat of a pain to be around. It also taxed my sense of self, of not giving myself permission to do what I desired and what I would. I have learnt that being selfish is not a bad thing. All things in moderation and to each their own.

“I had told people of my intention to be alone for a time. At once I realized they looked upon this declaration as a rejection of them and their company. I felt apologetic, even ashamed, that I would have wanted such a curious thing as solitude, and then sorry that I had made a point of announcing my desire for it. … the decision to be alone for any length of time is dangerous, threatening, a sign of rejection. … Having never felt the need to be alone themselves, having always lived happily in relationships, they looked upon my need as eccentric, even somewhat mad. But more than that, they saw it as fraudulent, an excuse to be rid of them rather than a desperate need to explore myself.” ~ Doris Grumbach, ‘Fifty Days of Solitude’

 

Solitude is growth. Those who know me will attest that I think a lot, some may even claim that I over-think. Being a lawyer and educator, academic and intellectual pursuits are part and parcel of my life, one that I am comfortably familiar and cherish. All this ‘head-y’ stuff can sometimes be overwhelming, or strangely addictive. Either way, solitude is my step away from the mentalising and cognizing, away from boundaried explorations to experiencing varied possibilities, where I can broaden my sphere of seeing, and to draw a thread through the many systems and structures in my world. Most importantly, it allows me to just be. And it is only in these emotional and spiritual states that I am once again reconnected to the inner me which gets forgotten or ignored.

We have the choice of two identities: the external mask which seems to be real…and the hidden, inner person who seems to us to be nothing, but who can give himself eternally to the truth in whom he subsists. ~ Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation

 

I am practicing this often – to be at peace with my desire for solitude, no matter the consternation of the outside world. The “motivation” to be alone are many – because one has to, because one must, because one has something to prove, because one was forced to by circumstances…

Regardless of the cause, should you ever find yourself alone, revel in it. Take a deep breath, listen to the voice within, observe your self in this place, and allow yourself the joy (however tiny or great) of being your own companion for a while. There is always time to make friends with your self.

“It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, ‘Self-Reliance’

 

In solitude,
~ FlorenceT

 

© 2017 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

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Love liberates.

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Listen and be inspired… if I can be a mother, a daughter, a friend, a lover…such as this…wow!

I am grateful to have been loved and to be loved now and to be able to love, because that liberates. Love liberates. It doesn’t just hold – that’s ego. Love liberates.

It doesn’t bind. Love says…”I love you. I love you if you’re in China. I love you if you’re across town. I love you if you’re in Harlem. I love you. I would like to be near you. I’d like to have your arms around me. I’d like to hear your voice in my ear. But that’s not possible now, so I love you. Go.”

                                                                                   – Maya Angelou

 

– FlorenceT

 

© 2015 Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

Living the Rhythm of Life

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My guest post on @RonovanWrites

ronovanwrites

Florence 2This month’s guest is Florence Thum of Meanings and Musings. Lawyer, Therapist, College Professor, Writer, Blogger, Mother, and more. And no, those are not in any particular order. A lady from Down Under with a lot to say and lot of ways to say it.

As I venture here as a guest still wondering what I could possibly offer on RonovanWrites, I am reminded ‘write what you love’. At the moment, what I love is TIME because I have so little of it. It is what I covet most.

Time poorTime cannot be bought, it is beyond my control. If I do nothing, if no one does anything, time will still pass in its own rhythm, in its own time.

Time is.

Of course my perception of how time passes, the judgment I bring to its passing and to my being in it as it passes, is my own. That…

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Will we ever be free?

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Perhaps it is the passing years but the import of the words to this song has become more poignant and sad.  Sad because a song that was written in 1963 (by Bob Dylan), a protest song on peace, war and freedom, still holds true 50 years on.

Is the answer so intangible, that it is still “blowin’ in the wind“?

A song for your reminiscing and contemplation…

First, the lyrics, and then a version of the song by Peter, Paul and Mary on video.

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
How many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?

How many times must the cannonballs fly
Before they’re forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind
The answer is blowing in the wind

How many years must a mountain exist
Before it is washed to the sea?
How many years can some people exist
Before they’re allowed to be free?

How many times can a man turn his head
And pretend that he just doesn’t see?
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind
The answer is blowing in the wind

How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
How many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?

How many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind
The answer is blowing in the wind

– FlorenceT

In my fantasy

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I am compelled to provide you with the English translation of this beautiful song, Nella Fantasia, which I had attached to my post Love and Beauty‘.  It is sung by Sarah Brightman to the contemporary classical piece “Gabriel’s Oboe” by Ennio Morricone.

Perhaps it may counter-act the tone of my previous post, ‘My sisters in poverty’ and bring us to a place of hope and peace.

In my fantasy I see a just world
Where everyone lives in peace and honesty
I dream of souls that are always free
Like clouds that float
Full of humanity in the depths of the soul

In my fantasy I see a bright world
Where each night there is less darkness
I dream of souls that are always free
Like clouds that float
Full of humanity

In my fantasy exists a warm wind
That breathes into the city, like a friend
I dream of souls that are always free
Like clouds that float
Full of humanity in the depths of the soul

I attach the music video again, for your pleasure…

Have a brilliant weekend in love and beauty, hope and peace,
– FlorenceT

Tortured soul

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Tortured Soul

In that moment of clarity
I see the grace of God
In that moment of love
I see the Universe conspires
To bring light and hope
To a tortured soul.

A soul longing to be free
A brilliant mind wanting to take flight
A man calling out for salvation
And as he traverse this long road
Will all be put to right
At his journey’s end.

– FlorenceT

Response to loss

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Grief is an overwhelming emotional response to loss, which can be expressed as anger, sorrow, anguish, despondency, mortification… to name a few. At times, it is recognizable. Yet there are many instances when ‘it’ does not resemble anything we have been led to understand – the gaiety, the risk-taking, the impassivity perhaps.

Recognizable or not, we grieve. Not only in times where through death, we lose a loved one, or the loss of a career or a home – these are obvious losses. A wise woman once told me life is about loss. In time, I have come to agree, and not in a morbid way.

While we are socially permitted to grieve for the obvious losses – in fact if we don’t or do so in an unconventional way, we would be considered odd at the least – we somehow ignore the less conspicuous yet significant losses in our lives. We are advised to count our blessings, but are we encouraged to acknowledge our losses?

Loss suffered through the passing of time, of the road not taken, from the demise of a dream or an ideal, or when you lose the appreciation for beauty and nature, when you lose your sense of self. And just because these are less obvious (perhaps others scoff at your ‘sensitivities’ should you speak of them?) do not make them any less meaningful in each of our lives. And how do we deal with these losses? Have they made you cynical, distrustful and wary? Have they made you fearful?

Grieve and know that what happens in our lives can enrich us – spiritually and emotionally – if we allow it.

The key is thus in our response. When someone abuses our trust and we lose our innocence, when we feel betrayed and we lose our faith, when the demands of life are relentless and we lose hope – how do we respond? I have no answer except this – CHOOSE a response that makes you a more compassionate person, brings you closer to fulfilling your potential, lifts you up, expands your awareness.

So I share with you a much-loved quote, from an inspirational man who survived war atrocities through his choice of response. This is a quote I return to time and time again, when I am uncertain of the choice to make, when I sense dis-ease and not know why, and so I look to a vision of ‘growth and freedom’.

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”                    Victor E Frankl