This is an essay I wrote back in college. I was going through old stuff at my parent’s house today and actually managed to find it. (Ok, it’s been on my computer this whole time, but still, I found the physical copy.) I remember this one. I remember writing it, and I remember my prof liking it so much that he spent a good part of one of our sessions discussing it with the group. It has nothing to do with sex or BDSM or making fun of stupid people, but it speaks of something very important to me: solitude. I’ve always been a big fan of alone time. If I don’t get enough of it, things start to break down. I get stressed out. My performance in all areas diminishes. So when I go on unannounced hiatuses from meeting new partners and playing, this is why. I told a friend the other day that I simply haven’t been in the mood. And it’s true. To be perfectly honest, the thought of playing has barely skimmed across my mind for the last month or two. I’m sure I’ll get back to it soon enough; everything is perfectly fine. I’m just doing me right now.
In Praise of Solitude
Solitude shines brightest where she cannot be seen. She thrives in the moments when the world stops and we are alone with Thought, shielding us from Doubt, Distraction, and Distress. Those who know her intimately would give her the utmost praise, knowing first-hand how her subtle, quiet nature can nourish the grandest desires, and how her patience can solve the most difficult problems. While elusive and fleeting to those who are not accustomed to her presence, she exists eternally inside us all.
Solitude has always been, but we did not recognize her until we looked inward and said, without pity or distaste, “I am alone, but I am not lonely.” Solitude grew warm within our hearts, filling the once void shell of empty self with the golden glow of her existence. As she grew ever more radiant, she learned much from Contemplation, who taught her to embrace all thoughts, no matter how vapid or vivacious. She learned from Patience, who taught her to take a stand against Time and his incessant need to rush. Most importantly, she learned from Breath, who taught her to exist in the current moment, making it longer and shorter, wider and deeper, more forgettable and more memorable as she pleased.
As Solitude matured, she developed a keen sense of when she was needed and when she wasn’t. Many times, as her younger self, she had made the mistake of arriving too soon or too late, and doing too much or not enough. In her older years, she learned to come when beckoned but not to overstay her welcome. She learned how embrace us, but not to overwhelm us. She cradled us as we cried, supported us when we needed to be strong, and gave us confidence to carry on.
Solitude’s adaptability is, by far, her most commendable trait. She knows that some seek her guidance every night, while others make do with monthly or annual visits. She’s powerful but always in control, wielding destruction at her fingertips yet commanding it with tranquil grace. She exudes calm and stillness amongst chaos and commotion, but can also act as a catalyst when times are dull. She has truly perfected the embrace of self, with all its various needs, desires, dreams, anxieties, fears and worries.
One cannot praise Solitude for too long without an honorable mention of Companionship. Before there are any complaints that Companionship does not belong in this ceremony, hear this: Solitude and Companionship are not rivals. These apparent enemies are allies, each aiding us in experiencing all that life has to offer. Solitude provides an anchor while Companionship pushes and pulls the tide. Solitude keeps us warm and dry, while Companionship lets us feel the rain and hear the thunder. Solitude always agrees; Companionship loves debate. While neither could exist without the other, Companionship’s natural instability often leaves Solitude as the last one standing. She is a safe haven for the soul–a place to run to when Companionship loses focus. But of course, Solitude never intends to steal us away from Companionship. Rather, she seeks to revitalize us, refreshing our hearts for the next time Companionship returns.
If Solitude ever had an adversary, Loneliness would be her most despised. Solitude has fought for eons, vying to separate her identity from one that is too often bleak and dejected. She has been accused of smothering Loneliness away and spreading false rumors that her opponent has never existed. Solitude has been blamed for putting a true criminal on a pedestal, glamorizing it until its misdeeds have been struck from the record. It must be known that Solitude and Loneliness are not identical, and that Solitude has never intended to draw our attention away from that havoc that Loneliness can wreak. Solitude is a healer. Loneliness seeks to hurt. They should never be confused.
Solitude is a best friend, she is a mother, she is a childhood playmate, and she is a teacher. She is not a threat, and knowing her is not a sign of weakness. Solitude deserves praise, and her hard work has undeniably earned celebration. We all have something to learn from Solitude, whether it be how to protect, how to console, how to nourish, or just how to listen. Fortunately, Solitude is never out of reach. All we need to do is look inward. Solitude will be waiting.