When I slow down enough to listen, my inner-self guides me towards the next best action. But I’m not always listening. Inputs disconnect me, opinions cloud my thinking and best judgement, and noise disturbs my inner-peace. When I give attention and energy to everyone and everything but me, I diminish my inner-trust and am unable to hear my inner-self calling out for someone, me, to listen.
In today’s attention economy, we must intentionally cultivate quantums or at least pockets of time where there are no opinions or inputs, just solitude.
A quote from Joseph Campbell, the Mythologist who wrote about the archetypal hero, comes to mind:
“This is an absolute necessity for anybody today. You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers this morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you might find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.”
Joseph Campbell died in 1987, long before ubiquitous internet. Imagine how necessitative he would find this period of solitude today. If he were here today, he would likely implore us to seek solitude.
There are many ways to find solitude, and different activities work for different people. Regardless of what you find works for you, we must be intentional about finding time where it’s simply us and our own thoughts. How easy is it to plan to read but to instead scroll on our phone? Or intend to practice art in some form but instead turn on the television?
How do you find solitude? What creates stillness in your life? Is it walking, writing, reading? How about hiking or exercise? Or maybe it’s art, or music? Or…? Whatever you know it or find it to be, set aside time for solitude, give yourself a chance to breathe and to really tune in to what your soul craves.
Personally, walking works well for me.
“It is only ideas gained from walking that have any worth.” - Friedrich Nietzsche
The ideas for my last few articles have been created and taken shape during walks. Without taking this intentional action, I find it hard to listen and to create. Walking allows me to work through creative ideas and, as Campbell wrote, “bring forth what you are and what you might be.”
How can we not invest time into activities that help us to find solitude, the thing many of us need most? May we always create the solitude that allows us to listen in, build trust, and get curious as to who we are and to who we may one day become.