Be Alone Without Being Lonely
I believe solitude is critical for the mind. I try to work and think alone as often as I can (which isn’t often).
Last year, my doctor told me that I needed some real solitude to reset myself – no family, no computer. He said, “Don’t let anyone talk you out of it. It’s doctor’s orders!”
He knew, left to my own devices, I’d find an excuse not to do it.
So I planned it a month in advance. I would take a week off of work, head up to Door County, Wisconsin, in middle of summer and enjoy some alone time. My wife was on board, and even looking forward to some time alone with my son.
The week passed like a few hours. I hiked. I photographed. I wrote. I tried new restaraunts and a brewery. I just walked around for a while. I meditated. It was the reset I needed. I was free from anxiety most of the time, and when it showed up, I would just do something else. I was free.
Solitude is freedom from anxiety for me. It’s also an amazing catalyst for creativity. So many ideas flooded out when I gave my brain a chance to breath.
“Good,” my doctor said. “Now do the same a few times a year.”
More on solitude:
Spend More Time Alone by Cal Newport
“I hold this to be the highest task of a bond between two people: that each should stand guard over the solitude of the other.“ — Rainer Maria Rilke
“Conversation enriches the understanding, but solitude is the school of genius.” — Edward Gibbon
“Loneliness is failed solitude. If you don't teach your children to be alone, then they will only know how to be lonely.” — MIT professor Sherry Turkle
“The No. 1 Creativity Habit: In a word: solitude. Creativity flourishes in solitude. With quiet, you can hear your thoughts, you can reach deep within yourself, you can focus.” — Leo Babauta in Zen Habits
“The mind is sharper and keener in seclusion and uninterrupted solitude. No big laboratory is needed in which to think. Originality thrives in seclusion free of outside influences beating upon us to cripple the creative mind. Be alone, that is the secret of invention; be alone, that is when ideas are born.” — Nikola Tesla