In my time alone my life happens.
I’m at my most peaceful sitting in dappled shade, the dancing of the shadows reflecting my thoughts as they skip between the light and darker corners of my mind. This dipping in and out is the intercourse of creative life – the place where ideas are conceived, nurtured and born; where conversations take place without saying a word.
Reflection, thought, solitude and contemplation.
Words which seem to jar and sit ill at ease with 21st century vocabulary, which in order to be heard above the mayhem of tweeting, trending and texting would need to shout and present themselves loudly, the very antithesis of their meaning. They are unfashionable words, the execution of which is seen as odd or eccentric. And yet we should cherish and practice them at every opportunity. Until 50 or so years ago it was only the elite who had time to stand and stare but now with so many labour saving devices in the average western home we too have that luxury if only we choose to embrace it. Instead many of us fill those disposable hours with online activity, encouraged to put ourselves forward, to shout the loudest and follow the latest viral trend or else we have somehow failed . . . the irony of which as I type this post is not lost on me! We have ceased to become self-reliant, choosing instead to escape into this world of hyper-activity in preference to our own company.
And yet it is a precious thing, to be still and reflect, to explore our thoughts away from the influences of the external world. To be self-reliant is to breed tenacity, the will and self-determination to follow our own path when those around us are walking the other way. It develops imaginative curiosity to seek out answers for ourselves rather than an easy following of the crowd.
And it takes courage to be different.
To be alone and not defined by someone or something else, to avoid being influenced by outside things – this is what creates strength and individuality. We live in the age of individualism and yet, in reality our world is strictly regulated and the individual is merely on a treadmill that keeps the social template moving. It is only by removing ourselves from the system – however briefly – that we are truly ourselves; to be brave enough to navigate our own path is to develop the ability to re-engage more intensely and purposefully without risking loss of identity.
If we dare to withhold from immersive over-sharing and delve into speculative thought, we may be rewarded with creative inspiration, the courting of a fresh passion, the desire to perfect a new skill and the exquisite experience as it all comes together into something tangible. It can afford you one of the greatest pleasures of all – what Michael Foley in his excellent book ‘The Age of Absurdity’ refers to as the orgasm of the mind.
To be actively individual is not passive or reclusive, rather it is like standing back from a painting in order to see it more clearly.
And it is from here that we may find our purpose and thus our meaning.
Rebecca Pells 2014