The other day, I offered to shovel out the driveway for my hubby, giving him a break from what is normally “his” task (yep, he does “outside the castle” stuff, while I’m the “inside of the castle” queen). This was a couple days after our so-called “snowmaggedon,” and with no warning at all from the doppler radar weather gurus, we got a snowfall that added several inches to our already white carpet of snow.
While taking a break from the shoveling, I just stood there and listened to the winter silence. Don’t you love how the snow muffles the sound of the world? Then, in the distance, I heard the mournful sound of a train whistle, a sound I’ve always loved, for some unknown reason. Just being outside, alone in that quietude, I felt at peace.
The Joy of Solitude
Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve loved those times of solitude. I often walked to my elementary school alone, and one of my favorite solitary treks was to my hometown’s library, which was about a mile from my house.
As I got older, I enjoyed bike rides by myself and would also travel by car to my dad’s house in the upper peninsula of Michigan, an eight hour drive.
Nowadays, I like the quiet of the house on Friday evenings, when my husband is at bowling and I have the house to myself. I leave the television and computer off, and just read. After a day at work, with phones constantly ringing, work interruptions by co-workers, and other distractions, it’s nice to simply be alone with my thoughts.
How Solitude Has Helped Me
- Solitude helps clear my mind of everyday clutter and helps me focus.
- Solitude de-stresses me.
- Solitude ofen helps me find a solution to a problem, or at least gives me some temporary distance from the issue.
- Solitude helps me come up with ideas for my writing.
- Finally, solitude helps me learn more about myself and what I want to accomplish in my life.
I’m not a hermit, by any means. I enjoy my friendships, and know I benefit from them. I’m happy in the company of my husband, and I sometimes miss my Friday evening dinners with my daughter (she’s away at college), but I also find that solitude can be a joy, and enhances my feelings of wellness.
What about you? Is finding solitude a necessity for you? What benefits do you reap from it?
Leo Babauta of Zen Habits writes about the lost art of solitude.