Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Does Solitude Ensure Survival?


"No man will ever unfold the capacities of his own intellect,

Who does not at least checker his life with solitude."

Thomas De Quincy. 1785-1859.


Friends, if we have to accept that we can't change the warring world or our deeply flawed selves then, to keep going, perhaps we need regular periods of total withdrawal from some of life's grim realities and our fellow travelers.

Do you seek periods of solitude on occasion or does it frighten you?

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12 comments:

Mary Walsh said...

As a child I was incarcerated in a Catholic orphanage. That was as much solitude I would want in a life time. As 12 year olds we had two periods of Retreat annually. One for eight days and one for four.

We spent twelve days each year in total silence except for prayer.
We had no stimulation to our brains that did not include a religious context.

We would be in church up to seven times in one day. Solitude is not just being in a place devoid of other poeple, it is a place of aloneness in a crowded room or in the emptiness of a church or room.

I've had enough solitary confinement to last me a life time. There is no need to take yourself out of society to retain peace of mind. Sitting under a gum tree in the park can achieve inner peace just by sitting still and allowing the peace of the scenery to wash over you.....

My sermon for the day!

Daniel said...

The cruelties of the Church are manifold, Mary! Of course, what is torture for children can become a blessing in the adult world. Cheers.

Nancy said...

I'm simply not a solitary animal. I sometimes get cabin fever in a big way, which is why I would ideally like to live in a cohousing or partial share housing arrangement.
The cat helps of course. The cat always helps.

But I don't think we are a solo species. This summer I met a man who homesteaded for 15 years in the Canadian outback. He built, shot, and grew everything himself with the help of his wife. The wife got cabin fever 'three weeks after we got there' and eventually left him. He now lives in a commune because after living alone 'he was turning into something he didn't want to be.'

I think that the rugged individualists in the human species either are lying like rugs about their solitude (most of the 'trappers' on this continent had Indian women as companions) or they have some sort of emotional crippling/mental illness.

Daniel said...

I really wasn't suggesting permanent solitude provided any answers, Nancy! Then permanent people and continuous electronic technology and noise may be just as damaging. Cheers.

Naj said...

Very good question.

I think I am always withdrawn from the world and from the others, even though i interact with them.

But total solitude, will frighten me.

Daniel said...

You and I occupy a similar position, Naj! Cheers.

Nancy said...

Hi Daniel,
I was just showing an extreme example (absolutely verbatim quotes, by the way) of what solitude can do to you.

And I repeat, I'm not an antisocial animal. Though it is always wise to have a room to yourself for a bit of privacy.

Lucyp said...

After 10 mins of solitude alone with my cigarettes and a strong coffee, i am recuperated enough to get stuck into the world again.

Daniel said...

And I thought you'd given them up, Lucy. Silly girl!

MarcLord said...

I've had about a week of blog-solitude, using the relatively sparse free time used for blogging to read and think. Later, I wrote one of my better posts, so the unfolding the capacities of intellect does tend to follow solitude. It's where the most powerful learning takes place, even in the multi-tasking world.

My point is that the solitude was situational, yet beneficial; the rest of my life was as busy as before, as always. A little space, however, does a body and mind good.

Lucyp said...

I did give them up for a week which is about 6 days longer than i usually last.

Daniel said...

Thanks for your confirmation of solitude benefits, Marc.

Lucy, I'm suffering a few blood circulation problems caused by pipe smoking during my early manhood. Smoking catches up with you eventually. Please give it up!

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