My solo sunning spot in Vernazza

A little over a year ago, I wrote a post entitled, A Time of One’s Own, about the importance of solitude and what it means to me.  I’ve been thinking on it more this past week, as I’ve had a lot of solitude here in Italy.

I once had a discussion with a friend, who suggested that the desire (or need) to be alone is uncommon – that most people would prefer to be in the company of others.  I wonder if that is true or whether people simply feel the weight of their obligations toward others more heavily than they feel the weight of their obligations to themselves.

As with anything in life, solitude has pros and cons.

Pros: I wake up when I’m ready, eat when I’m hungry, choose what to do whimsically, write when I am inspired, read when I need company, sleep when I am tired… I savor my food and wine, I meditate, I put focus on my interactions with others.  I am at liberty to choose how to spend each minute.

Cons: Being alone sometimes lacks intimacy, which can breed loneliness.  Being alone is often uncomfortable, especially when you are in situations or places (bars, restaurants) where people seldom go alone.  Of course you miss those you love.  Sometimes you want to share a moment with them – make it a mutual, rather than solitary, experience.  And for me on a personal level, going for so long without speaking is difficult.  (Those of you who know me well are laughing now, I know.  Just try getting me to stop talking – I KNOW!)  I am a talker, a conversationalist, a story-teller and a story-listener.  It is not so difficult to work around that when I am alone in the States, but here in Italy where I can only cobble a few sentences together, it is more isolating.

Yet, having time alone is essential for me.  If I am always with others, I find it difficult to prevent myself from experiencing and interacting with the world solely through their eyes.  When I am alone, I can ask, “What do I see in this moment?  What is in my heart?  What am I meant to give to the world?  Where is my power?”

This is not to say that other people’s perspectives cannot or should not change your own, or are not equally as important to receive.  Sometimes my kids will say things to me, for example, that are so true and raw and real that it almost brings me to my knees.  All I’m saying is that it is important to balance one with the other.

So, while I am feeling philosophical on this point, I will leave you with a couple of verses from David Whyte, from a poem entitled, The House of Belonging:

This is the temple
of my adult aloneness
and I belong to that aloneness
as I belong to my life.

There is no house
like the house of belonging.

What about you?  What is your relationship to solitude?

Categories: Italy, Writing · Tags: , ,

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5 Comments

  1. What a lovely post, Julie! I crave solitude, for all the reasons you mention, and perhaps because I meet it seldom in my current life. But a few years ago, my husband had planned to take the kids with him home to Turkey for a couple of couple of weeks before I could join them. I so looked forward to that time alone. And when it came, I moped! 🙁

    I’m glad you’re enjoying your time and connecting with your spirit! 🙂

  2. I quiet like being alone. I am alone in my apartment in Bagni di Lucca for a couple of months a year. I usually go for about 5-6 months a year and my husband comes for about 2 months. I get several visitors, but I enjoy the time I spend alone there. As you say, you can do just what you wish. I can sleep in, or get up early and walk through the chestnut forest, or go to the bar for breakfast, go to Lucca to walk around the walls, or just do nothing but stand at my window and watch the village in action.
    I am very lucky that I have a choice – that is the key.

  3. I love solitude . . . and companionship.

    Balance is key.

  4. I think I’d get grumpy without some quiet time alone for at least part of the day (those early mornings before everyone else gets up). It gives me time to recharge.

  5. I think you would like ‘Gift From the Sea’ by Anne Morrow Lindberg. Solitude is like sugar. It’s sweetest in well portioned doses.

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