Hours of flying in the air staring at clouds from the window seat. Hours of train journeys watching hustle and bustle of stations. Hours of road trips living my favorite songs in imagination. I have cherished these moments alone all my life. Yes, I am a lone wolf and I have been living an emotionally isolated yet self-contained life.
So, am I a shiftless or indolent person? Certainly not. I started my career at a young age and have been working happily for more than fifteen years. But I have been into introversion since the time I remember. All these years, I spoke way less when I was with people. I made fewer friends. I shared feelings lesser than I wanted to. I didn’t share my opinion until I was asked to. People often thought I am an egoistic person. Some punched this feedback straight on my face.
While I was cutting myself off from people all these years, I grew up with a habit that many found a strange one.
The practice of talking to self. Conversing with self every day helped me know myself better, understand myself better. My vision for my ambitions got clearer. Most importantly I infused my soul with the ability of self-healing. I started knowing whom to reach out first when something did not go well. Self companionship turned out to be the best gift I offered myself.
Self-isolation doesn’t just mean we physically trap ourselves behind the walls and do not see anything outside. The experience of isolation is a mental state. Isolation, in fact, is a response to the external world. It is a state where the mind remains unaffected by what’s happening around. Up to a large extent.
New York based professor Matthew Bowker who researched solitude has stated that - it’s a deeper internal process that strengthens your relationship with yourself. You can stay isolated even when surrounded by people. This fit into my belief system years back.
I lived almost 10 years of my active life alone. All these years, the only person I spent most of the time with was myself. Because I wanted to be that way. Sitting all day in solitude never got me bored.
I read. I wrote. I meditated. I cooked. I did dishes. I cleaned up. I danced. I sang. All in front of myself. I didn’t have to leave anything. I didn’t have to distance from others while getting closer to myself. Self companionship is what always soothed and healed my heart.
I lived willingly alone. I would wait for office hours to end not to get rid of works, but to run toward my apartment to cherish solitude. I would want nights to be longer not to sleep more, but to be around myself more. I would wait for Saturdays and Sundays to relish 'alonement' my way.
I loved it more than anyone when UK-based writer Francesca Specter introduced the word alonement in one of her articles saying she finds alonement so enticing. She defines alonement as the state when a person is not lonely. A few criticized her saying she is too young to talk about the merits of being alone as she hasn’t seen its adverse effects. But there were a lot many who praised the concept.
In one of his interviews, American Buddhist monk Reggie Ray has said, the power of solitude lets a person closer to her/himself and their life and to the people around them. That means a person who practices self-isolation or solitude is more compassionate to others.
I remember, two years back when I broke my phone’s screen into pieces, I wanted to have an experiment. My Samsung had hit the floor hard and stopped working due to screen damage. I purposely decided not to get a new phone for a few days. Those four days I lived with a non-smartphone just for needful calls, clock and alarm purposes. I would be in the office during daytime and morning/evening would be a no-scrolling time. Due to the nature of my work and the designation I held, I had to get a new phone that supports the internet otherwise I would extend those four days to 40. It felt so quiet without social media and the internet at least for few hours a day.
Living an emotionally isolated life is a mindful and sane decision that shaped me as a spiritual person.
While so much is going on in our world right now, I am witnessing stay-home-order days as just a few of the usual days in life. And I have been wondering how perfectly each of Blaise Pascal’s words, said in the 17th century, is making sense today: “All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
(To read more from the author go to www.leenachitwan.com)