Katie's Voice

On the Need for Solitude

  1. I sometimes think I never wanted kids because, somewhere in the pre-teen core of me, I knew I was a person whose need for solitude was great.
  2. Feeling guilty about wanting to be alone doesn’t actually make the desire for solitude go away.
  3. “Introvert” and “extrovert” are over-simplified ideas, but nevertheless it often feels hopeless trying to explain to an extrovert just how important alone time is. It’s not what I do while I’m alone that matters; it is the fact of being alone. Given the choice between aimless chatting and looking out the window, no one else in the house, I choose the window.
  4. Hours. I am talking about hours of solitude, not mere minutes. I know: I am greedy, perhaps even selfish. I am capable of giving up my solitude, particularly during vacations or when loved ones are visiting, but it takes a toll. Not only the muscles in my shoulders tighten up, but the bands of thoughts in my head as well, all my inner and outer sinews humming with tension. Ask a constant fidgeter to sit perfectly still and they may describe the same urgency.
  5. Of course I get lonely too. I miss my friends. I need to talk to people. In moderation.
  6. Having to account for what I do while I’m alone infringes on the solitude itself. I may choose to share that information, but part of solitude is autonomy. I decide what I do when I’m alone, whether it’s productive or not. Maybe I talk to myself, or my pets (I do). Maybe I don’t say a word for hours (that too). At eleven, newly moved to town and away from the horse farm I’d known my whole life, I played the pump organ that sat in our living room. I played it terribly, and it’s difficult to pump while you press the right notes on the keyboard, but I did it while no one else was around. I still remember the quality of the air, the sun hitting the dust motes in a way specific to that time and place.
  7. It is not only that I can’t write when I have no solitude. I can’t think, either. My thoughts feel swaddled in cotton, muffled, soft. I get dumber, as well as crankier.
  8. Rooms feel bigger when I’m alone. The world itself feels more spacious.
  9. Yes, sometimes I watch tv when I’m alone. I prefer the other times, but I try not to judge myself. That’s part of what I learn, what I remember how to teach myself best when I’m alone.
  10. My need for solitude waxes and wanes. If the moon were a giant silver cup—an image I can only truly hold in my mind when alone—some days I would be thirstier than others. I don’t always know what’s in that shining cup. It holds whatever solitude wants to give me.


Categories: Katie's Voice, Meditation

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4 replies »

  1. I know what you mean. I too have to make sure I budget time for myself. Sometimes it is easy but at other times it seems like I need to be in so many places with different people. But I can usually make sure I have the me time I need by being honest to my friends. When I tell them I can’t do something on Sunday because I have spent several hours on Saturday out in a crowd of people they usually don’t push. I’m glad you wrote this. It spoke to me and in some ways speaks for me as well. Thanks for sharing.