True solitude is a din of birdsong, seething leaves, whirling colours, or a clamour of tracks in the snow.  ~Edward Hoagland

As the world spins faster and faster—or maybe it just seems that way when an email can travel around the world in fractions of a second—I find I need to find ways to cope with the resulting pressures. I need to maintain a degree of balance and some sense that I’m still steering the ship rather than the ship steering me.

If I fail to find it I increasingly feel bloated and overloaded, I overreact to minor annoyances and feel like I’m running but never able to catch up. As far as I’m concerned, one of the best ways of coping is by seeking, and enjoying, solitude. And the boat’s a good place to find it.

We live in a very tense society. We are pulled apart… and we all need to learn how to pull ourselves together… I think that at least part of the answer lies in  solitude.~Helen Hayes

It is only when we silence the blaring sounds of our daily existence that we can finally hear the whispers of truth that life reveals to us, as it stands knocking on the doorsteps of our hearts.  ~K.T. Jong

That said, there is a world of difference between actively seeking solitude – such as time afloat in the countryside – and loneliness. For me, solitude is the state of being alone without being lonely. It is a positive and constructive state of engagement with oneself. Solitude is desirable, a state of being alone where I can provide myself with sufficient company and sufficient things to do not to ever feel lonely.

My kind of solitude is a time that can be used for engagement, for reflection, for looking, listening, learning. It’s often silent and always deeply enjoyable. Deep reading requires solitude, so does experiencing the beauty of nature. Thinking and creativity usually do too.

Solitude is something I choose. To me it suggests peacefulness, and is a means of enjoying the quiet and whatever it brings that is satisfying and from which I find I can draw sustenance. It is something I work at and try to cultivate; finding in solitude something refreshing; an opportunity to replenishes myself and regain perspective, it renews me for the challenges of life.

I have a great deal of company in the house, especially in the morning when nobody calls. ~Henry David Thoreau

A large, still book is a piece of quietness, succulent and nourishing in a noisy world, which I approach and imbibe with “a sort of greedy enjoyment,” as Marcel Proust said of those rooms of his old home whose air was “saturated with the bouquet of silence.”  ~Holbrook Jackson


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