Solitude Standing

Dictionaries explain ‘solitude’ with words like ‘isolation’ and throw in a pang of loneliness. Etymologically it derives from the Latin solus, which literally means ‘alone’. Other words play around it, like ‘solitaire’ and ‘solo’, each taking the alone-factor and making it its own.  And then this very blog post – a written soliloquy.

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Solitude: Lord Frederic Leighton
[In this case, sitting, not standing. I also believe this beautiful painting should be more accurately titled Woman Stuck in a Cavern]

Solitude and I are good friends. It’s contentment. Me-time. I potter about the house doing mundane things. Hang out the washing. Write a blog post. Have a cup of tea. I don’t have to meditate in a mountain cave starving myself of stimulation or be in the darkest depths of depression to find her. She’s not to be feared – she’s just misunderstood. Some people attempt to save me from an evening by myself, as though I’d be locked in an empty room without windows. Why should ‘sought solitude’ carry a different intention to ‘going solo’? Why does ‘being alone’ sound less like a choice?

The Pre-Raphaelite painters with their classical themes fed my feeling that Solitude should be borne from mythical or historical roots. This painting by Leighton surely depicts the goddess Solitude not merely the noun. She could be a goddess, or the Patron Saint of Oneness. She’d be humble, of course.

As a lone type, I wonder sometimes what my life would be like if I hadn’t met my husband. I wanted to share my life with someone I loved but even while wanting that, I wasn’t inclined to actively seek it. I approached companionship with a pinch of hope and a handful of qué sera sera. Fortunately, our paths did cross so I’ve never discovered a limit to my solitary tendencies. The saturation point where it crystallises into loneliness or knocks on the door of claustrophobia. Hubby’s a bit of a lone-monkey himself. I could be writing while he’s in his workshop building a thingymewhatsit. We even seem to sit together in solitude, mentally immersed in completely different activities until one of us puts the kettle on. Perhaps it is even a mutual affection for Solitude that helped to link us (now there’s an oxymoron for you).

Of course, it’s hard for my friends to entice me out when slopping about in comfy clothes to tinker with words or bake a cake is as appealing. Completely different, but still appealing. So then there’s that crazy weigh-up which is difficult to explain to anyone other than a hermit, “I’d love to go out, but I want to stay home by myself…”

Solitude needs to be revised. Instead it should derive from the Latin sollus meaning whole or the legend of the goddess Solitude. The lone wanderer. Philosopher, writer and hobbyist who potters about in her isolated mountain cabin in harmony with herself, the seasons and the local woodland creatures. She is neither lonely or sad and when asked what piece of advice she would give to other solitary wanderers she replies, “Embrace solitude, but don’t forget to get off the mountain.”

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4 thoughts on “Solitude Standing

  1. I envy you so much. I like to be on my own sometimes but never for a long time and the very idea of sleeping in an empty house terrifies me. I think it’s a sign of low self-esteem and not being on a very high level of spritual development. More like, on a quite low level actually 🙂 I wish so much I could be self-sufficient, like you.

    • Don’t be too hard on yourself 😀 Solitude isn’t for you, just like a calender full of social engagements isn’t for me. Geez, speaking of envy, I could do with a lot more social confidence!

      Balance is always key, but it is easier said than done as it’s in our nature to lean towards the situation we find more comfortable and therefore never become more practised at the other. Not only that, but as much as I *say* I love solitude, I do stretch the definition. I *know* I sleep better when my husband is home and I adore company of the four-legged variety. I appreciate solitude most when I’ve been away from my ‘mountain’ and with the knowledge I am free to leave at any time. Solitude only works if you choose it.

      It’s good to see you back blogging, I think you are much stronger than you know xx

      • Thanks, Kate! All the same I think you don’t appreciate yourself enough, you know 🙂 Being able to be in solitude means you are well along the path of spiritual development. It means you feel good enough in your own company. I think it’s so great! You should be proud of yourself 🙂

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