Friday, April 5, 2013


When I read about people in poor, crowded countries who live with 20 or so other people in a small shack I wonder, “Do those individuals ever get any solitude?” When I hear about a multi-generational family that has moved under one roof because of the bad economy, I wonder if family members mourn the loss of opportunity to be alone. 

But maybe I overvalue the importance of solitude. I grew up in the rural Rocky Mountain West amid lots of empty space. As a kid, I and my dog ran free. I left in the morning and sometimes didn't return until dark. I explored fields where cattle grazed, ran up and down mounds of dirt, saw deer on hillsides, visited neighbors' horses, and rode them whenever I got a chance. I came to love solitude and silence. Maybe not everyone has a need to be alone. Maybe it's partly habit, partly cultural. 

Then I come across a quote from a great thinker or poet, like this one from C.S. Lewis. “We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and privacy—therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.”

I probably don't need to figure out whether solitude is a universal desire that occurs in everyone. I only need to respect that longing in myself and find ways to accommodate it.

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