Day 6 — Are solitude and sociability polar opposites?
When my husband left for his annual winter junket I wrote about looking forward to three weeks alone.
In the past few days a major storm left me housebound with no choice but solitude. It was quite lovely but by this weekend I needed to spend time with others.
Benefits of Solitude
While solitude is not a choice for everyone and nor is it a choice that I always want for myself, there are benefits from time spent alone.
Eliminating exchanges with others enhances contemplation. There is time to think.
I use time alone to re-balance my inner self — as a means of restoration. It gives me time to evaluate and to plan and just to be.
Without the distraction that comes from interaction with others my thought patterns change. There is more natural ‘flow’ which helps with writing and other creative projects. There are no interruptions. There are no demands — real or implicit — from others.
But solitude has its limitations.
Interactions with others are an essential counter-balance to solitude. Social relationships are important ingredients for a happy and fulfilled life.
Socializing with interesting people makes me thrive. The ‘give-and-take’ of a good conversation stimulates my brain. It provides a type of creative energy that’s impossible to get from being alone.
That’s why I jumped at an invitation to play bridge last night, found myself lingering in good conversation at a luncheon after church today, and thoroughly enjoyed a dinner with my son and daughter-in-law this evening.
Finding the Balance
While solitude and sociability are polar opposites, a balanced life has a place for both.
I crave solitude and am never bored when I’m alone. I don’t need to be with people to feel fulfilled and happy.
I also recognize that I thrive when I spend time with people. The energy flow that comes from others is stimulating. The people in my life provide love, support, encouragement, laughter, compassion and the occasional ‘dressing-down’ when I need it.
Solitude rejuvenates. It then allows appreciation of the time spent with others. The trick is to find the right balance.