The artist who, craving solitude, achieves it too little, feels sad and cheated; a dozen busy days are no substitute for one rich hour of solitude. ~ Eric Maisel, Affirmations for Artists
On Sunday morning, after a full week of enjoying grandchildren and contending with responsibilities of elder care and a busy household, I got four hours of solitude. It was not at all planned, but a time dropped in my lap: here, a blessing.
A rainy morning. I curled in an overstuffed chair in the living room with my journal and books, questions and prayers. Several times I cocked my ear. Silence in the house. Unbelievable. I could hear the birds outside. I think I began to breath for the first time in a week. I had not noticed I wasn’t breathing fully, until I began to do so. By the time people came knocking at my world, I felt energized and eager to see them. I felt as if I’d been plugged in and recharged by the hours of solitude where I could hear myself think some surprising thoughts.
The effect of those hours of solitude on my mind, spirit, and body is stark proof to me that I need that sort of withdrawal from the world on a regular basis. I’ve been aware of this need, and I’ve even written about it, but I think now I know that I know that I know. It is akin to an engine’s need for oil. Just this morning I took my car in to have the oil changed. I am as regular as clockwork about this, for I know the better I provide what my car engine needs, the longer it will last. I don’t just wait for the oil and time to change it to show up–I schedule it.
It is time that I began scheduling my solitude, and great swaths of it. It doesn’t matter what others think of my need and behavior. I know that in order to keep operating my best, even sometimes operating at all, I need time alone to listen to the silence, to dream, to explore, and just to be.