Solitude: An Opportunity to Color Outside of The Lines.
Solitude: (noun) the state or situation of being alone. A lonely or uninhabited place.
When I first Googled "solitude" for this blog, I gasped at the word "lonely" in the definition. I was expecting the dictionary to offer a very straightforward, non-emotional explanation of solitude. My expectations were wrong. Internally, it carried a negative connotation for me -- one of sadness. I gathered that my undesirable perception of the word "lonely" needed to be altered because solitude can be wonderful.
Lonely: (adjective) sad because one has no friends or company. Without companions; solitary. (Of a place) unfrequented and remote.
I am conditioned such that images of people who are sad, without friends, and completely alone, flooded my mind first when I saw the word "lonely" being used to describe solitude. I didn't give "lonely" a fair chance because my perception jammed on the brakes before I reached the "unfrequented and remote" place. Very rarely do we have a chance to get there and be totally alone. Solitude is like a wooded, remote dirt road that's easy to miss, or viewed differently, it's hard to find. Especially nowadays.
We're so connected every day. We need to seek out solitude. The last time that I checked, there were eight different ways that someone could contact me- not including snail mail (which I love!) or just coming up to talk to me face-to-face. This list included: call, text, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and three- yes, three- email addresses all accessed from the palm of my hand. With so many ways to be in touch, it's hard not to be in touch. That's why I headed for the wooded mountains of Vermont alone.
When was the last time that you spent time by yourself? Does the idea of it immediately call to mind a worrisome sense of feeling "lonely," or does it create for you a sense of welcome respite?
As I sit alone for three days in the rural mountains of Vermont; walled in by the sound and soak of pouring rain, and blanketed from sight by dense variants of green leaves, I feel a sense of gratitude and inspiration. Gratitude for the quiet found within the music of dancing rain drops. Gratitude for the dirt road trailing up through the trees, that is easy to miss or hard to find, in an unfrequented and remote place. Inspired by those who also find a home of their own in different places of solitude. In that rite, we are never alone. Through the whispers of the trees are spoken lessons to mediate upon when it's quiet and I can listen close. My thoughts drift to memories of childhood when I would play happily alone for hours, completely entertained. Children have creative minds that can make playtime anywhere under any circumstance as often as possible. Technology not included. They enjoy their own company. They color outside of the lines.
At what point in "adulthood" or in society, did we flip a switch that says: you're lonely if you're not connected; you can't have fun if you're alone; and you should really color inside of the lines.
Being alone allows you time to reflect and see the bigger picture. When the world isn't always connected to your fingertips, and your focus isn't career, friends, social media or society, then you can make an intimate decision about which colors you want to bring to life as you paint your canvas. Imagine being able to zoom in on the canvas of your life, similar to how you can zoom in on a picture on your computer screen. It's all little pixels (dots). Imagine having to make decisions about how to color in that picture from that perspective. It's a confusing and overwhelming task if we try to color the picture while we're so zoomed in on the dots that we can't see the big picture. We're stuck in the details. Coloring should be fun, but in this sense, it becomes a chore. If we never get a chance to be alone, then it's hard to zoom out.
Solitude: (noun) the place where you can zoom out.
Now, the pixels become a picture. You can intentionally choose the aspects of your life, business, and ideas that you want to highlight and also determine which are better left in the shadows. It's fun to design this way because it's easy to create, edit, and enhance the colors as you see fit. You choose the colors intentionally that align with the vision for your life's canvas.
If you want to be more creative, then find some time to step out of your comfort zone, and into a place of quiet. Turn off the phone, step away from social media, and you just might find the answers that you're looking for.
So tell me, do you want to paint inside or outside of the lines?