American poet Marianne Moore, who won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1951, once wrote:
The cure for loneliness is solitude.
It’s the sort of line one must read again, and again, to let the meaning emerge from the words and soak into the soul.
We usually think that if we’re feeling lonely it’s time to put on our dancing shoes, paste a big, bright clown smile on our face, hit the road and find a party to crash. But Moore is saying that if you’re lonely you need to keep being by yourself – until you are content being by yourself.
Sometimes we choose to be alone, but we don’t feel lonely. Maybe the kids have been particularly noisy, or work has been demanding, so we shut ourselves in our room, or head off to walk a stretch of sandy beach or a quiet suburban street.
But sometimes life forces us to be alone and that’s when we can become lonely.
Perhaps friends move away, or we move to a new town, or we become sick, or we retire and lose daily contact with others, or we lose a life partner. That’s when loneliness can settle on us like a heavy blanket and blot out the sun.
If any of these things happen to you, your friendly GP may prescribe pills, but Moore recommends you stay with that feeling of loneliness until you turn it into something else – solitude.
Solitude is the state of being alone. The word implies an acceptance of being in that state. And that is what makes all the difference. Acceptance.
If you’re feeling lonely, and you accept that feeling rather than trying to run away physically or mentally from it, your perceptions and your state of being change.
Acceptance of loneliness turns it into solitude, and solitude is a secret doorway to many wonderful things.
deep, lasting peace
The Power of Solitude
Solitude is a time of soulitude.
It’s time when you choose to focus on your soul – that inner presence that is ignored in the busyness of normal life but is always there, waiting for you to pay attention to it.
As Moore wrote, solitude is a cure for loneliness. One moment you’re filled with gut-wrenching loneliness, the next moment – by switching your self-perception from loneliness to solitude – you move into an awareness of a deeper part of yourself.
When you pay attention to your soul, you realise that you lack nothing and that you’re not alone. You are connected to all things by invisible forces that flow through you and never leave you alone.
The mental state of loneliness is a choice. Choose solitude instead and everything – absolutely everything – changes.
With love, Marlane