“I have often said that man’s unhappiness springs from one thing alone, his incapacity to stay quietly in one room. Imprisonment is such a horrific punishment. That is why the pleasure of being alone is incomprehensible.”- Blaise Pascal
Like clockwork, I woke up at 6:30 this morning. I will be the only one awake (with the exception of Charles, the faithful gate keeper) for the next two hours. I don’t mind this quiet time to myself as the sun comes up. It gives me time to read, write, and pray. It is also the only time I will have to myself for the rest of the day. At home I don’t get up in the morning and have two hours of complete aloneness and silence. So, I’ve been learning a lot during the past seven weeks of this. Things like…
- I have been addicted to distraction. When you live in the constant presence of cell phone, Internet, iPod, and a myriad of other electrical hummings that make up every day life, the absence of visual and auditory noise is startling. I began to think if there was ever a time back home when I intentionally avoided distractions and the only thing I could think of was when I’m painting. Occasionally I’ll have music going, but it’s time for me to strictly create, not consume. I’ve realized a world of externals has distracted me from the emptiness of my inner life. I ward off boredom at all costs. But not here. Here, I’ve had to confront boredom. I’ve had to think. A lot. I’ve had time to ask big questions. I’ve had time to get to know myself. I’ve had to focus on relationships. Life here is all about presence. At home it’s more about presentation. I’d like to change that upon my return.
- Embrace silence and solitude. Withdrawing from the world for personal fulfillment or feelings of well-being are all fine and dandy, but I don’t think that is the only, or most important outcome. Detaching ourselves from the systems and structures that shape our daily lives is good so that we can begin or reenter a day and really participate in community out of the transformative love of God and power of silence/solitude.
- It’s not that easy. Like I said, I enjoy the 6:30 quietness to myself, but this morning I felt a kind of loneliness that makes you feel like a grade-school kid homesick and stuck at camp. I tried to pray but mostly was just getting snot everywhere. And I felt like I heard God say, “I’m here too,” but it sounded mostly like my own voice somewhere in my heart, only more kind and wise. And that’s all right. I didn’t seek a distraction. I didn’t try to fill the emptiness with something. I just sat there and felt it for what it’s worth.
“This was my moment to look for the kind of healing and peace that can only come from solitude.” Eat, Pray, Love