May 14

What a lovely surprise
to finally discover how
unlonely being alone can be.

Ellen Burstyn


Today's Meditation:

How many years it took me to discover this wonderful fact of life!  Those were years during which I could have taken advantage of so many opportunities to visit, to see, to experience, to learn--and instead I wasted many of those chances pining for someone with whom to share them.  I didn't fully value the chances I had to do things on my own, without worrying about someone else's schedule, without having to make plans based on someone else's whims.  And I didn't value the true beauty of actually being alone with myself and experiencing more things on my own.

It's a mystery to me now why our culture is so unwilling to teach our young people the value of being alone and spending their time with their own company.  If we can learn from an early age just how nice it can be to be alone--as long as we have a healthy perspective about being alone--then the time we spend on our own can be much more valuable.  Sadly, though, very few people are willing to spend time alone, so they never find out just how positive it can be.

It is wonderful to spend time with others.  It's great to share ideas and learn from each other, to spend time together and bond and enjoy each other's company.  But that doesn't mean that time alone can't be wonderful, too.  The time alone can allow us to clarify our ideas, to think things through without interruption or interference, to settle things in our minds and hearts, to reflect on things that we've done and things that we want to do.

And that lack of interference, of other people's ideas, can be one of the most beneficial things we ever experience.  When we come to conclusions on our own, when we learn to deal with problems that our minds bring to us on our own, then we learn one of the most important lessons that life gives us.  It's great to allow others to help us and to pursue interdependence, but it's also necessary to be able to spend time on our own and make that time valuable, not worthless, and to enjoy our own company in solitude rather than loneliness.

Questions to consider:

Why are so few of us willing to spend time and explore alone? 

What's the difference between solitude and loneliness?

What kinds of things can you do on your own that would be thoroughly enjoyable?

For further thought:

It would do the world good if every person in it would compel
themselves occasionally to be absolutely alone.  Most
of the world's progress has come out of such loneliness.

Bruce Barton


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