Being a Part, or Apart?

Solitude is a precious thing.

We all need time to be on our own, to switch off and relax, to disconnect from all the things that are competing to grab our attention and to connect instead to the things that are really important, the things that are vital for our wholeness and peace of mind.

Choosing deliberately to stand away from the mainstream at times can be a good thing, especially from a creative point of view. It’s hard to cultivate your own original thought and develop your own voice if you’re constantly jostling amongst others and watching what they’re up to, however stimulating it may be.

But solitude can be a gift and a curse. In her recent post Solitude versus Loneliness Deborah Lee Luskin talks about the pros and cons of being alone, how it has to be an essential part of our lives, but how too much of it can lead to loneliness and isolation. She gives her strategies for cherishing solitude and guarding against loneliness, and asks, what do you do?

For some, isolation isn’t a choice and to have solitude imposed on you for whatever reason can be a terrible thing. My heart goes out to anyone who suffers like this, and lots of things can cause it – long term illness, bereavement, depression, poverty, disability, unemployment, language problems – not to mention imprisonment – to name but a few.

For most of us, most of the time, isolation can be something we choose and I’m certainly happy when I’ve chosen to be on my own. I take short walks with my camera, and quite often I stop and stand still, sometimes I sit down, and I do absolutely nothing for as long as I can……

Finding ways to avoid loneliness can be more challenging than finding ways to relax, but to my surprise, I’ve discovered that blogging can be a good way to do both.

I started out (quite recently) with my aims deliberately set low – to teach myself to master the basics and to practice writing – but now I realise I’ve stumbled on to something that has a lot more to offer. For one thing, WordPress makes it a lot of fun, creatively, because there are so many Themes to choose from and it’s easy to experiment with different ones – but more importantly I’ve discovered the WordPress community, which was something I hadn’t bargained for. Now, instead of writing a journal or a series of thoughts, when I put together a post and finally after taking a deep breath click on ‘Publish’, I know that what I’m saying may be read by a small (but possibly growing) number of others – some of whom respond! It focuses my thoughts and makes me pay attention to what I want to say. I put replies and comments on other people’s posts, and we converse. We are talking, briefly, about things that interest us both, that we both think are important, and we find ourselves on common ground.

This has been my unexpected, delightful discovery – that I can reach out and find myself in touch with people who are often incredibly far away, people whose work I can see and read and admire, people who are saying things that resonate with me. I have read more excellent writing, and seen more exquisitely lovely photographs in the last three months than I had found in the whole of the previous year.

I hope that this will be just the start of a long adventure, and I look forward to it. Thank you to all those of you that write with such care and attention, and to those of you who share such beautiful pictures. To all of you who have read this and other posts, (including the ones on my website), thank you – and I hope we’ll meet again.

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