"At the heart of solitude lies a paradox: look long
and hard enough at yourself in isolation and
suddenly you will see the rest of humanity staring back."
Buddhist writer and scholar Stephen Batchelor offered the above reflection in a recent conversation with On Being host Krista Tippett. The episode is titled Finding Ease in Aloneness, and it centers on how the present situation is forcing us all to work out the difference between isolation and loneliness or solitude.
Hailed as a "beautiful literary collage", The Art of Solitude is Batchelor's new book, and it teaches how to approach solitude as a graceful and life-giving practice. I notice a host of possibilities open up when I look at this chapter of self isolation as an art form to practice and sculpt, rather than as a sentence to serve out.
Among the wealth of wisdom shared in the Art of Solitude's pages, Batchelor defines the concept of being alone with yourself as... "Just being in your own company, and not only being OK with that, but also, recognizing that this is the source — this place of just settling is the place you find yourself, for example, if you’re a poet or a painter — that’s where your ideas begin. That’s where your imagination, your creativity, all start to, as it were, be germinated and then find form."
In morning, I "find" myself along the water, taking cues from the ocean. Despite its vacant shores, the surf swirls, the sea beams back blue and the show truly does go on. That nuance makes its imprint, and I go and practice my art. As we head into summertime, here's some inspiration for practicing yours?
The above is excerpted from EXHALE: LOOK, LISTEN & LEARN, a freely offered monthly communication, curated to keep you curious! Read MAY 2020's full EXHALE, and enjoy past issues here...