RHYMES&REASONS

Observations, Thoughts and Reflections on 21st Century Life

Tag: Solitude

21st Century Introvert

001

Quiet. Introvert. Solitary.

All words which have long since borne negative connotations. In 21st century life, where sharing our every movement and every meal online has become the accepted way of behaving, social media has become the extroverts dream paradise, the introverts hell.  Underestimated as a way of being, introvertism is neither prized nor offered as a path to tread, shunned in favour of over-confidence, extrovertism and ubiquitous over-sharing.

But a world in which every one is a Donald Trump or a Boris Johnson would not succeed – thankfully!  Our species needs it’s philosophers, it’s artists, scientists and geeks.  It needs it’s witnesses as well as the witnessed.  They are the ones who step back to view the bigger picture or delve deeply to see the oft missed yet crucial detail.  Introspection provides the opportunity to practice, to cultivate and examine from every angle before we hit the share button.  It is the first necessary step in the consummation of a new idea, the space in which to sow, till, nurture and reap until the young sapling is strong enough to face the limelight.

It prepares us for the conversation, tentatively invited when we finally stick our head above the parapet:  it will buffet us in the maelstrom of social media, straining against our every grain and fibre of being, our private world exposed in the harsh glare of publicity.  Carried as the wind in the trees our inner souls are transported across countries and continents, to shores so distant our physical being will never set foot upon them.  As the shock of the first tectonic impact settles, we begin to find a new way of being and to join in the conversation.  Our vulnerability becomes more robust as we emerge from our inner world and engage with the tumultuous, shifting noise of the online world.

As an artist I have reluctantly had to embrace the world of social media, the list is growing –  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Artfinder, Fine Art Seen, as well as my own website and of course WordPress.  It certainly has it’s benefits and I have come to realise that unlike the extroverts who seek constant attention, the introvert retains the ability to retreat at will, we are masters at the beautiful art of withdrawal, where once again we can resume a conversation with ourselves; where we can tend a wound, cradle our disappointment and nurture our imagination until we are inspired once more.  To seek solace, to retreat from the white noise, is to find space in which we can ask more of ourselves, raise questions that can re-shape our thinking and perspective of the world we inhabit.

It is quite simply, an exquisite place to reside.

Oil painting ‘The Bench’ Rebecca Pells

available from https://www.artfinder.com/product/the-bench-47d9/

 

 

Advertisements

Witness and Solitude

004#

To witness and to be witnessed is a form of acknowledgement of our own and others’ existence.  It is the sibling of ‘belonging’  identified by Abraham Maslow in his hierarchy of basic needs as crucial to our emotional well-being.  Few are able to live entirely in the absence of either.

As I approach my mid-fifties, I suddenly find myself without parents – officially an orphan as one friend stated!  Neither uncommon or unexpected.  And yet I was unprepared for the sense of aloneness I experienced, even though I’m not from what you would describe as a close family either geographically or emotionally.  It has surprised me, since I live and work alone I’m used to and comfortable with my own company.  But parents or carers are our primary witnesses, they watch over us when we are young, validate our efforts as young adults and observe  from the sidelines as we progress through life.  And then at some point the witness becomes the observed as we in turn keep an eye on them in their advanced twilight years.

The threshold over which we take our first steps into aloneness is often experienced as abandonment.  Many will step back in fear and seek distraction, the company of an unsuitable partner or live at the edge of other people’s lives, rather than allow the space and time for a solitary life to flourish.  Alone we are faced with nothing but our own reflection, our repetitive inner voice, no-one to be impatient with but ourselves!  Tired of our own story, we eventually begin to tell it in a different way, we no longer need to filter it for the ears or expectations of others and we can live our life as a question rather than a fiercely guarded certainty.  Sooner or later a fresh complexion begins to appear, the gentle re-weaving of our inner and outer forms.

In the 21st century to seek solitude is considered odd, others feel rejected and offended by it.  But to allow ourselves – and others – to be alone, whether for hours or days or weeks, is to live something that feels like a choice again.  In this space we can experience our own truth, not to sink into despair of a mis-spent past or regret a decision made long ago, but to inhabit the space in a fresh way, to navigate the movable frontier between what has been and what we are about to become.  Self-knowledge allows us to adopt the manner of the fledgling novice once more, humble and gracious in our attention to ourselves, others and life.  It is good to remove ourselves from time to time from the chaotic flow of a world which never stands still, to find our place within it once more.

Painting ‘Field of Dreams’ Rebecca Pells Fine Art

Orgasm of the Mind

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.

 Quiet Contemplation

‘Quiet Contemplation’

Rebecca Pells    2014

%d bloggers like this: