“But your solitude will be a support and a home for you, even in the midst of very unfamiliar circumstances, and from it you will find all your paths.” ―Rainer Maria Rilke
We are busy people. Our pace is dizzying. Characterized by long commutes to work. Traffic jams. Shuttling kids to and from school. Pressured to deliver results. Deadlines. Meetings. Emails. Phone calls. Parties. Our society is chaotic in its frenzied addiction of the chase―for money, power, fame, and success. Especially success, whatever your definition.
How are you getting along in the strangeness of these times that have normalized such concepts as ‘social distancing’, ‘self-quarantine’ and ‘lockdown’―brought about by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease?
For some, working from home―with schools closed―means being in closer proximity with spouse, kids, and whoever else makes up their household. Are you one of these? If so, have you discovered ways to spend quality time together in the vast quantities available to you now? Or are you already missing the relative solitude of your office?
If you live on your own, or if you have had to self-quarantine, the heightened level of solitude may be beyond anything you’ve ever experienced. We are, after all, social creatures, and many of us are not accustomed to extended periods of alone time. Even the introvert enjoys being alone in the context of having made the choice to be alone. No one enjoys forced solitude.
Perhaps you’re beginning to feel like a hermit?
For religious and other reasons, hermits seek solitude in remote and isolated locations―caves, mountains, desert, forest cabins, the like. The first known hermit, according to legend, was Paul of Thebes, who lived in a mountain cave in an Egyptian desert around 250 A.D. Providentially, there was a spring and a palm tree near ‘his’ cave. The spring became his source of water while the palm tree provided the food and clothing he needed.
How long would you survive such a lifestyle? Well, Paul did it for about 100 years, so the legend goes.
We too shall survive the solitude imposed on us by the coronavirus pandemic.
Or not so? Because this solitude is not our choice, and because we are all anxious about the unfolding events―our health and the health of loved ones―we might end up stress-eating or drinking; or spending too much time sitting on the couch channel surfing and on social media. By the end of the day, we may be more exhausted, and worried. Not the best of feelings.
But you can also purpose to take care of your mind, body and spirit. Here are a few things you can do to achieve this:
Read a book you’ve always wanted to read but never got round to. Online libraries like archive.org are free to join and borrow e-books. Maybe classics like Of Mice and Men or Things Fall Apart, or more recent works you haven’t yet read, like The Testaments – the 2019 Booker Prize winner.
Laugh. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s okay to laugh. It relieves tension and boosts your immune system. Watch a funny movie or re-runs of stand-up comedies. If you’ve watched anything funny or that cheered you up, let someone else know, it will cheer them up (let us know in the comments as well).
Exercise. This is important if you can’t leave the house. Put on a workout video, or jump rope, or just turn on some music and dance for 20-40 minutes.
Talk to God. Really talk; without a script. Even if you’re not sure if you believe in Him. Either He actually hears you, which is amazing, or you will have gotten a few things off your chest.
What else are you doing to thrive in your solitude? Remember, you’re not alone. We’re all in this together. And we shall come through it. Meanwhile, take all the care you can!