We all need time to be alone with ourselves. A quiet walk. Writing in one’s journal. Time to talk aloud in the woods.
We all need this time everyday or else life is worse.
I find that I lose my feeling of control if I spend less than two hours a day alone, thinking.
But it’s easier than ever before to choose to always be distracted, to always have your mind filled with the thoughts of others.
“Solitude deprivation”: due to technology, many of us have become deprived of this basic need.
If we’re always listening to music, if we’re checking social media nine times a day, if we’re always able to glance at our smartphone at the momentary whiff of boredom… are we ever really alone?
It didn’t used to be like this. Before portable technology, almost all activities were done with only one’s own mind to generate entertainment.
We all need this time to think. To reflect, to critique, to ponder, to learn about ourselves, to be grateful, to generate thoughts independent of others’ thoughts.
I believe solitude is especially important for questioning the significance of what we spend our time on. When we’re not thinking for ourselves, it’s very easy to accept the thoughts of others without second thought. (“I want to good job—a job with a good salary—…because then I’ll be happy, of course…”)
Despite my classes, writing, research, and other activities, I make ample time for solitude everyday.
In the morning I walk for an hour, and after I write this website for another hour. Only then do I begin working on everything else.
And at the end of each day, I journal about my current thoughts for a half-hour.
I spend 2-3 hours daily in this kind of solitude, and I’ve noticed that if I spend any less than this I start to feel frazzled and diffused.
I believe it’s important to make time for solitude in the beginnings and ends of days particularly: the middle of most days is filled with trivialities (because most days are filled with trivialities). It’s much easier to think about large, long term, important things in the early morning and late night..
Ultimately, I believe solitude is how one cultivates an independent self— Otherwise, what are you but a sack of other people’s opinions? I believe solitude is the way to becoming a real person.
Written in solitude.
Posted 2020 November 30, last updated 2021 February 15.
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