Solitude—without doubt one of the greatest casualties of our fast-paced Western society.
But before we can begin to think about solitude, we face the daunting task of carving out even a small moment of quiet, alone time.
How does anyone make room for being quietly alone, in the midst of the mad dash to work, to accomplish objectives, to pay the mortgage; to get the kids to school on time, to their soccer practice, or to finish their homework? And not to forget those for whom not failing, not going hungry, and not being without shelter is a twenty-four/seven job, unremunerated.
I’m confident you also have long “To do” lists. Amidst an ever-frenetic culture, it is not surprising, as I learned from a recent study, that the top symptom which young college students now report at campus health centers is no longer depression, but anxiety.
Even in retirement I feel demands on my schedule, and I marvel at my younger friends who survive amazing pressures. Of course, not all of us do survive. But that’s another story.
Oh, solitude! Where is your place? How will I find you if I cannot find quiet time alone?
What to do?
We know upfront that none of us will create quiet for ourselves—the space in which solitude is nurtured—unless we become intentional and very determined—so determined that we make ourselves sit down one day, re-examine our schedules, and ferret out the truly necessary from what can be jettisoned. Only then do we have a chance of salvaging a few precious moments for ourselves. (I knew one busy mom who got up early and locked herself in the bathroom to claim her prized alone-time.)
To create such time I must cling like a child with a precious penny to the sense of reward such silence can bring, even before finding it. Anyone who has succeeded in halting—if only temporarily—this onward rush of our lives can testify to the richness of the rewards.
Still, I must remind myself, setting aside quiet time is only a precondition for finding the solitude for which I long.
To paraphrase Janis Joplin, “Oh Lord, won’tcha give me a moment’s repose!”
Have you ever struggled to find quiet time for yourself? Were you successful? What did it take?