Monday, May 1, 2006
The mere mention of the concept can be very unsettling. And yet it is deeply engrained in every aspect of Life. The very thought of its experience can be utterly frightening. And yet it is as common a practice of our life as is breathing and sleeping. It graciously calls to each of us, whether we hear it or not. It warmly invites each of us, whether we accept its offer or avoid it altogether. For as author Edward Hays so honestly states, “I didn’t set out to seek anything... but whatever it was, came seeking me.”
Within the extending arc of every revolution of a traveling sphere there remains a momentary pause. And within each oscillating atom within each body, there is a brief moment of rest. And following each heartbeat in each person’s chest is a lull; a solitary second of relaxation and release. It is not happenchance or coincidence and most likely not a matter of cosmic evolutionary development. It simply is a vibrant and active aspect of all Life… and an aspect that is typically ignored and avoided by the human species.
Momentary rest, void of as much external stimuli as possible. When was the last time you experienced just such a momentary rest? And please, don’t count last night’s sleep. Research has shown that most individuals’ minds are more mentally active while sleeping than while watching television. So when was your last momentary rest when you reflected on, thought about or meditated solely on you and your solitary life?
I’m not referring to the solitude that unfortunately comes to a person due to the death of married partner or through the social aging process. And I’m not addressing the solitude that exists when one seems to have nothing in common with those around him/her. What I am referring to is an intentional momentary hiatus, a brief period of seclusion, a lull from all of Life’s demands and concerns. It is this solitude, this momentary pause, this solitary second of relaxation and release that comes in the midst of a busy week, day and hour. It is this solitude that whispers for our attention, and at times, loudly beckons for our time.
Solitude is derived from the Latin word solus, meaning “alone;” a word that has several synonyms, many of which that have been used in a negative fashion, such as lonely or secluded. And yet, it is this synonym of alone that is intriguing. It is a Middle English word that was basically formed from two words: all and one. In other words, all one; that personal retreat away from all others and all else where you may surprisingly discover and rediscover yourself.
In this season of upcoming summer, it is very tempting to frantically exit work, load the car and make a hasty getaway to one’s lake home or cabin. We may have even stowed away a few work documents in the car, just in case an urge hits us to revisit the office over the weekend. Once at the lake, we busy ourselves with shoreline projects, family activities and social entertaining. At the weekend’s end, we arrive back at work and inform our colleagues that we “had a secluded weekend away from the rat race.” Then why is it that we sometimes still feel so tired? Perhaps the whisper has not been loud enough.
The whisper to solitude. It has been the desire and practice of all the great leaders and teachers of this world. From mountaintops to deserts to ocean-swept boats, they have sought out and answered this momentary silence and centering. It has been and remains their intentional act to search out and connect with their personal espiritus (their “breath of God”), their greater spirit and inspiration within. And regardless of whether you are reading these words while relaxing on your home or working anxiously in office/work space, this very same whisper is calling to you. You owe it to yourself and those in your life to, at the very least, humor its calling for a short time.
In the height of the summer activity and solstice, don’t just take the time, but make the time to take a quiet stroll along the silent shores of your own aloneness. Search out and find a time during each day that you can carve out a few moments to simply spend some time alone. No television, no cell phone, no to-do list, no PDA, no multi-tasking, no text messaging. Just you alone. Wake up earlier in your day if you need to find a moment of solitude. Stay up a few minutes more if you are in search of a moment of solitude. The person who states, “I have no time,” is the person most in need of that time. Are you just such a person?
Quiet yourself and let the silence sweep over you. It may be frustrating or overwhelming at first, but let that whisper inside you grow until you can hear it clearly. It has much to say to you. Here in this place, void of all social titles, expectations and obligations, simply find yourself. Be nowhere else but right here in this solitude; in this solitary place and try to remember the person you once were and the person you are now trying to become.
You are that child standing on the shoreline, skipping rocks across the water's surface, without a care in the world. You are that child sitting just inside yourself - waiting to be greeted, cheered, nourished and nurtured.
Make it your sole purpose to find that child; that child that was once full of dreams, of laughter, and of hope. Search for that child that was entrusted to you from the beginning... and just play... dream... laugh... hope...
Remind yourself again of how easy it once was to just enjoy the day and trust your cares and worries to your parent. And then remind yourself again of how easy it can be to enjoy the day ahead while trusting your cares and worries to your Parent.
Remind yourself again of how much fun it was to enjoy coloring books and crayons, sunsets and popsicles, bubble wrap and bubble gum. And then remind yourself again of how much fun it can still be through your own conscious choice to enjoy the simplicity of life.
Take some quiet time for yourself and let the world go by at its blinding speed. Where were you off to in such a frantic pace, in the first place? And where were you hoping to end up? Not to worry, the pace will still be there when you return, in its ever-present carousel fashion.
Patience is a greatly underrated and highly ignored gift of Life. Give this gift to yourself. For it is with patience - with self and others - that love blossoms at an exponential rate. Be patient with yourself and allow yourself the time to slow down, step out of the maddening race and relax. It is a long race from here to your personal finish line, so be sure to gather rest for the journey ahead.
Use the time wisely to recuperate from the periodic wounds that Life's journey hands you; rejuvenate not only the body, but mind and spirit as well. Listen to what you have not heard yourself say in quite some time: "I need to be forgiven... I need to forgive... I need help... I need guidance... I need patience... I need time...I need love..." Take the time to take these needs to heart. Take time to pray for these needs. Take time to reflect on these needs. Take time to allow Life to help these needs.
Reconcile with yourself and others. Life in this world is too short not to be forgiven and forgiven often. And Life in this world is much too short not to forgive and forgive often. Acknowledge all that is wrong with this Life, but be sure to also take account of all that is right with this Life. There is much more right with this Life and that deserves personal praise.
And in all your seriousness to reflect and reconcile, also remind yourself to laugh at yourself. You are, despite all your flaws and failings, a joyous creation! And that deserves the laughter of celebration and thanks. Search for guidance to see more clearly the design of your Life and then laugh in praise and thanks!
You owe to yourself and those around you to become reacquainted with yourself; that self that was planted deep within you. Allow that self to be watered with hope and compassion; and warmed it with friendship and peace. And then allow it to grow.
Allow this day to set and this evening to come, knowing that you tried your hardest to be the best you that you could possibly be today. And then lay your head on your pillow, reminding yourself that all is well. Bless and sanctify this day with some time alone... all one… and then reawaken to the glory of the adventure that awaits you tomorrow.