In our daily lives, we strive to and take pride in being busy. We like to see ourselves multi-tasking and bask in the glory of productivity when someone acknowledges us. We live with other people (whether family or friends), work in teams and do almost everything in groups. Or we always have our mobile phone, some book or movie, or the ever ubiquitous internet with us for company. Staying alone is what we end up thinking as a waste of time.
But man is essentially an individual. He was born alone and will die alone. He does talk and interact with other people in a number of ways but in a very primitive and biological way, man is essentially individual. Sitting alone for some time should not be unsettling or unnerving, like it sometime gets in our lives. In fact, giving some time only for ourselves could be one of the most enriching experiences ever if one tries to do so. And it can solve a lot of our problems. Problems which arise only because of our inability to stay alone with our thoughts.
If one can be content while sitting alone and don’t feel (or act on) the urge of checking what your friends are doing on social media or the urge to go out and shop and eat your favourite burger or pizza, a lot of our problems can just melt away. It can break the chains and bonds of normal life and we will longer need to be constantly busy just to match up with our peers and unnecessary comparison with others. Being busy, ironically, is the place where all our problems and stress arise out of.
If you think man is a social animal and cannot survive individually, think again. Man is not fish, and from time to time, he can (and should) get away from water (daily life). We will not die like fish if we spend some time out of water (alone). In fact, we can cherish our individuality and come back to our daily lives refreshed and replenished. A day spent alone from time to time will reduce the chatter of everyday life. You learn to listen to your thoughts, be aware of the different urges to be busy you will have, and then just let them be. And let me tell you, it is not easy to be alone. It can be very unsettling at first, and you can find many reasons to ‘do‘ something. But don’t let your ‘wanting-to-be-productive’ side deny you of your right to spend some time alone.
After some time, you learn to enjoy the quietness of things. You learn to notice the sounds of the birds chirping and the wind blowing. As the clutter of daily life melts away, you are left just with your inner thoughts. At this time, you will find yourself talking to yourself. It takes time getting used to, and you can always ignore your inner voice, but you must listen to it. Some quietness can leave with you with contentment, a new perspective, and a calmer attitude. In short, it can be amazing.
Solitude also makes us realize that our life is a blank slate with nothing in it, and it is our choice what we really want to paint it with. Our life is not about the tasks and the meetings we have all through the day which look unavoidable, but is about finding ourselves. Staying alone teaches us to be content with nothing and realizing that we can paint our life canvas the way we want. What would you call a person who is so busy reaching the destination that he never stops his car for refuelling?
Now what would you call the person who is so busy living life that she misses replenishing her own soul? We all need this refueling exercise of staying alone, and then we can take our life’s car wherever we want. So try sitting alone for some time, and just be quiet. Or perhaps take a long walk alone (like I do). Maybe start with small periods of time, and then increase the duration as you feel more comfortable with it. Just watch your thoughts in solitude but don’t act on them. Just listen, watch and be content. And you will soon realize you never needed anything more!