In between my monotonous everyday experiences, I escape into my mental domain. I cherish those moments in which I can step outside of myself and think about things that are important or interesting to me. I attribute my sanity to these times. Not to say that other people aren’t important. My life would be dull without them. But I like those breaks, those times when I am free from the constraints of self-consciousness. I see beauty in solitude, and I believe in its value.
My best example of this comes from swim practice. The swims that I enjoy most are the long ones. During a long swim, I hit a point where the pain stops and the rhythm of the stroke takes over. My mind can drift to other things. I can’t hear anything, and all I can see is the line at the bottom of the pool and the wall when I turn. Although other people may be around, watching me or swimming near me, this is a great solitude.
Silence, to me, is a wonderful thing. However, it has to be without tension. There may be no sound, but I can feel the tension. When there is no sound and I don’t expect there to be any sound – that is another time I feel solitude. This is when being alone helps. Most of the time around people, I expect them to speak, and that just ruins things. Or I feel their presence, like some sort of vacuum that sucks the stillness away from me. This also ruins the solitude. However, this only applies when their presence causes tension, because sometimes I can still be around people, be comfortable, and feel fine without them saying anything, because I think that sometimes people are looking for the same thing that I am and each of us cancels out the tension vacuum of the other one.
As Thoreau said in Walden, “I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude. We are for the most part more lonely when we go abroad among men than when we stay in our chambers.”
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