26 November 2007

Solitude


Someone recently referred to this blog as "a confessional website." The reference was a new concept for me and was made in the context of a misunderstanding. So my first reaction was a frown and a wrinkled nose.

After doing what I could to correct the misunderstanding, I looked at the term again, minus the filter of my negative emotional reaction.

The label does not fit because, at least so far, I haven't revealed any secrets here. Nor has my intention been to seek forgiveness.

The label does fit because I do seek here to see myself and be seen with as little disguise as courage will permit. My selfish reasons for doing this are a) a commitment to "coming out" to myself, over and over again, b) indulging my love of language and writing, and c) experimenting with another format for my lifelong fascination with autobiography.

Other reasons for blogging are a) to meet people and engage in "deeper" dialogue than is usually possible day-to-day, b) to provoke thought, c) to create and hold a space where people can explore personal issues in a fairly "safe" public forum.

There is so much I do not say here, so many days that something weighs heavily on my heart or mind and I want to blog it....but I don't. Because I'm not brave enough to let the world see that particular wound or imperfection or bias. Because I don't feel ready to deal with reader reaction. Because the issue is in process and we have limited capacity to be still while another is in process, to keep our hands and words off the precious unfolding. Process is a vulnerable time; premature exposure to critique and opinion and "fix" and sympathy can be disastrous.

In the last few weeks, I have begun allowing myself to say aloud--to myself and others--that I am lonely. Each time I speak the word in conversation, there is a feeling of confession. Loneliness when it has visited me, has always been a secret, an embarrassment (and we will count the mention here as my first disclosure of a secret in my blog).

I read somewhere that loneliness is a time for coming into closer relationship to the self, for refinement of self-identity and clarification of personal definition and boundaries. This is certainly true for me in the current episode of loneliness.

There is always the fear that my revelation of this secret will provoke feelings of pity in the listener--a possibility I find revolting. What I seek in sharing it is to see and be seen more wholly, to shatter one more layer of social pretense and "come clean." There is longing and pain and hard places inside the experience but it is not fatal; I am not sick or at risk; I don't need saving. I desire witness.

I've also read

As long as we are on a path, we will have a sense of direction. And all paths lead away from loneliness, for loneliness is stagnation, passivity, and inaction. So, you see, loneliness is nothing more than a call for action. When we heed that call, we move forward.
Although inexact, there is some truth here as well. In the process of self-definition and general reevaluation that loneliness often triggers, ideas for new directions and recommitment arise. Among the themes and issues on my work bench this time are family, life work, the importance of place, racial identity and aging, and insights are emerging with gentle boldness.

A blessing of loneliness and solitude is time away from the increasing clamor of the modern world. In the social realm, it seems sometimes that nearly everyone is in desperate need of something from me and I find myself swept up in a frantic rush of either fulfilling or resisting others' needs--or advocating my own.

In loneliness I rediscover my own feet and legs and know again where I stand and in which direction my life is moving. I hear again the essential song of my soul. My heart resumes its true rhythm; my breath returns to uncompromised fullness--inhaling and exhaling. I am delivered to the great plain of Being to press on, restored and watching the horizon for the arrival of my beloved tribe.









2 comments:

  1. I hear you ...

    I sometimes feel lonely, too, whether in a physical place by myself, or on a busy street, driving in my car, or in the presence of one or more persons I know and love (except in those moments, I might not feel particularly known or loving/loved).

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  2. *One of the things that's most gratifying to me about SITC is the self-revelation, self exploring.... for me, yr blog is more intimate than the conversations we've had in person, however deep our face-to-face has been. ALSO the questions,new informations, some of which engage my mind/heart for days. It never occurred to me that it's "confessional", although I realize some people use the word to mean talking about oneself or one's own feelings, secret or not.
    * I wildly disagree with the "lonely" reading... that lonely is a call to action, a state of stagnation, etc.... or that all paths lead away from loneliness... at least that's not been my own experience. For me, lonely has often flowered into deeper experience/knowledge of Self. Lonely has opened me to more fulfilling personal relationships- leaving behind the social swirls that leave me feeling lonely in the first place. Lonely is not neccessarily "alone", of course- implicit in yr post, I think, or am I reading that in from my ownself? It's funny-odd to me that we often feel guilty for feeling lonely- as if it's a failing, a debility, rather than a simple human feeling!
    * I LOVE the expression "gentle boldness". I aspire to that.
    *"looking for", eyes on the horizon, sometimes means we don't see what's before our very eyes.... as in "try to pick up that glass.... no no, don't pick it up, TRY to pick it up...."
    I wonder, too, what does yr tribe look like in yr mind's/heart's eye? What are they doing? How do they relate? I'd really like to hear more about that.
    LOVE, Dear Friend.... and Thankyou for SITC.

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