One of the most important discoveries I’ve made in my life is that only in solitude can we discover who we truly are.
Only in solitude can we discover what our lives are about, what our personal purposes are and most essentially, develop the inner peace we need to live life fully, deeply and meaningfully.
If you have never traversed the turbulent waters of solitude, my hope is that you’ll find these series of articles encouraging and enlightening. I like to refer to the courageous souls who have helped contribute to the insights in this series as the solitaires of our modern day. These people, the solitaires, have ventured into the intimidating void of solitude to face themselves, discover who they are and embrace themselves and the lives they’ve been given with peace and acceptance.
Every person is a solitaire. Every person is a stone set by themselves. The truth is that not only do we experience everything in our lives in the solitary, but we can never find our purpose, peace or answers engulfed in the tides of people or society either.
My hope is that this series will inspire you to seek, at the very least, some quiet time to reflect and learn.
The Noise Trap
Have you ever felt the need for some “quiet time”? And more importantly, have you ever asked yourself why? It’s no secret that our society and the lives we live are the causes of such momentary spurs of exhaustion inside of us. But why?
Not only do we feel constantly drained and frazzled by the fast paced, consumer and commodity driven lives we live, but the time we have to relax and reflect is harshly limited as well. Many of us unconsciously realize that the noisy, jam packed schedules we carry, allow no time for us to live life. Before we know it, our days, months and years pass in a blur.
It is only when we emerge from our routinary, mindless days that we realize we haven’t achieved anything of meaningful importance. We feel empty inside and outside, not knowing who we are or what true fulfillment is. This sickly feeling is the result of one sole thing: noise.
Quietness is the Secret Ingredient
Quietness is the most essential element to solitude. If the opposite of a virtue is a sin – have you ever thought of noise, the antithesis of quietness, as a sin? Personally I don’t like using the word, but noise really does hinder self discovery and self fulfillment. If a virtue is the quality of doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong, then quietness is possibly the most underrated virtue there is, and noise is the most forgotten “sin”. Only in quiet, the absence of noisy distraction, can we focus on developing inner and outer awareness, understanding and appreciation. But is external quietness essential to inner peace?
Quietness Internally & Externally
Equilibrium. Tranquility. Inner peace. All these words refer to the state of inner solitude and inner quietness. Is outer quietness always essential for establishing inner quietness? No. But it helps. But as Lionel Fisher reveals in his book Celebrating Time Alone, retreating into the quietness of solitude provides the first stepping stone to long lasting tranquility.
But what does this tranquility and quietness consist of? Inner quietness is an acceptance of yourself and the world, without any noisy conflicting expectations or desires. It is becoming mindful of the emotions and thoughts that are not you and letting them pass in peace. It is becoming aware of, and cherishing the beauty, fragility and transience of all life around you. And lastly, inner quietness is making peace with yourself, your flaws and your failures, realizing that none of these are you. They simply belonged to you. Inner quietness is the state of ultimate love and joy.
What about you?
What did you think about this article? I would love to hear your stories and experiences with quietness below.
This article is part of The Virtues of Solitude series.
You can read the second article on the virtue of Aloneness here.