My natural tendency is to withdraw when there is too much crowding. With too much noise and stimuli, there is overload. I’m just fine on my own. As a child I could spend hours drawing in my own universe, until my mother said it was time to play outside and it felt like I was thrown out the door.
I used to travel often alone. If you travel alone you have to move yourself otherwise nothing will happen. Every day I had to decide for myself what I wanted to do. Get out the door, hit the road and see the world. After all, I was traveling. During hours of train and bus rides, there was still plenty of time to muse.
Determining the pace was the hardest part of traveling alone. Because once you arrived at a place, it was as if you first had to come back to yourself to explore the area from there.
The time of backpacking seems long gone. Now with the children we camp with the tent. Tent camping puts us in a small, slowed down world, but there aren’t many opportunities to be on our own.
A new phase in my life has started, I just got divorced. I’ve found a new place. My new home is like a safe cocoon for me and the children. I am allowed to make room for processing and sadness and try to regain my energy. I do pretty well on my own. But being alone, being on my own is different from feeling alone. In my relationship I felt alone… I think a lot of people feel alone in a relationship.
Another time when I felt alone was after my mother passed away. Before she died in 2016, we called each other every day. When she was gone I thought, “What am I doing it all for, if mommy isn’t looking anymore?” I had to tap into my own intrinsic motivation again, but I also had to continue to give the love I received from my mother to myself, as it were, as self-love.
Now I am a father of two just divorced and on my own again. The moments when the boys are not with me, those are the moments when I really feel alone. The thought that they are happy with their mother comforts me. But it’s still an unnatural feeling. I wonder if I can handle this kind of being alone. If I can take the time to come back to myself first. I want to know who I am as a single man, as a single father. I’m not ready for a new relationship yet. And I notice this new time of solitude has a blind spot, I’m wary. I want to guard this ‘me time’. Because with my regained freedom also come the temptations, more bustle, more unrest. I find it harder to meditate. The blind spot is about the difficult emotions, the things I prefer not to deal with.
I ‘m still avoiding that and I’m careful not to fill this blind spot with my tendency to work even more, pretending I don’t feel alone because of a busy schedule. I am still restless and notice that I avoid the moments when I feel alone. I tell myself that hours of musing or daydreaming are also time well spent… But slowing down the pace to explore this place is again difficult.
“The Art of Solitude”
August 18 – 20
Together with Susan Bögels I give a meditation weekend about “The art of being Solitude”.
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