Solitude, a redux

Posted by on Mar 21, 2011 in Inspiration | 5 comments

[Image: James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Nocturne]

Two years ago I wrote a post about the distinction between solitude and being alone. In it, I discussed how important it is to take time for yourself but not to block yourself off from others so much that you become very much alone and the alone time, all consuming.

I am reposting this piece for two reasons:

Emotional pain can cause us to go deeply inside ourselves, pain and worry for a loved one, concern for a friend, fear of loss. A short stint alone to sort out those feelings can be imperative for some. But then, it’s time to face those fears or concerns or pain head-on.

I did that this past weekend. I learned a lot about myself and confirmed that more often than not, your own pain is not always as important as another’s, that the best antidote for the yearn and urge to run is to move towards and not away from your fears.

So, I give you solitude. And I take back mine, if only, for a day or so…

The French novelist Colette once wrote:

“There are days when solitude is a heady wine that intoxicates you with freedom, others when it is a bitter tonic, and still others when it is a poison that makes you beat your head against the wall.”

I have always been a person who needs and cherishes my alone time. In fact, being alone is often a deliberate choice rather than something that is forced upon me. As we get older, solitude allows a break from the busy-ness of life, from the noise, from the distractions. It rejuvenates the soul and provides an opportunity to look closely within, to take stock, to gain clarity and balance.

However, as Colette so aptly says, it can also be detrimental to our health when our needs or when fears, allow solitude to become all-consuming.

At times, immersing oneself in solitude may be the correct path. Other times, solitude may lead to a burrowing that is so deep, that in the end, not only do you lose those who care for you, but your soul as well.

Poetic license with Lao-Tsu: It takes strength to love someone deeply. It takes courage to allow yourself to be deeply loved.

One more thing. Strength lies in stepping outside the comfort zone. That is the true path to growth, even when it means you have to set aside the comfort of your burrow or cave.


  1. 3-21-2011

    I loved this before and I love it again. For me it is the balance between the basement office and leaving the zip code.

    Great piece BBFF.

    • 3-21-2011

      Thanks Amy. I am truly beginning to realize that burrowing is not always the answer. xo

  2. 3-21-2011

    Lovely words, Liz. And so true. Like you, I love my alone time, but also know the difference between good alone time and bad alone time. And in spite of how hard it can be – like the weekend you just spent – running toward that which you fear can often be more cathartic than anything else.

    Thanks for the good start to my day!


    • 3-21-2011

      Shelly, not only do I love my time alone but I need it. But sometimes, it can be a detriment. After taking that alone time, I realized that I needed to move towards and not away. I am glad that it resonated with you.

  3. 3-22-2011

    You are right on the money with this post. It’s been a long winter and sometimes too much alone time can really drag me down. Finding the right balance and getting out with friends is so very important.

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