Illustration by Maurice Sendak from Open House for Butterflies by Ruth Krauss
Society today frowns on individuals who want some alone time now and then. Consequently people can’t seem to be alone, or quite and relaxed anymore, without others thinking something is wrong with them.
Curiously, and importantly, mastering the art of quite solitude doesn’t make us more antisocial but, to the contrary, better able to connect with others.
By being intimate with our own inner life – that frightening and often foreign landscape that philosopher Martha Nussbaum so eloquently urged us to explore despite our fear – frees us to reach greater, more dimensional intimacy with others.
That paradox is what British author Sara Maitland explores in How to Be Alone(public library) The five rewards to be reaped from unlearning our culturally conditioned fear of aloneness and learning how to “do” solitude well are:
1. A deeper consciousness of oneself
2. A deeper attunement to nature
3. A deeper relationship with the transcendent (the numinous, the divine, the spiritual)
4. Increased creativity
5. An increased sense of freedom
“Of all people, only those who can be at leisure of mind, can be still for a period daily, who make time for philosophy – only those are really alive. SCM