Having actively embraced silence, solitude and simplicity for the past eleven years, I find that the flow of my interior life continues to be peaceful, abundant, and fruitful. During those five winters (2009-2014) at the cottage, I did the hard work of being alone. At the time, it didn’t seem like a big decision to spend the weekdays there by myself, but clearly it was. I cherished that time by myself, doing what I wanted and not doing what I didn’t want to do. I was on my own, by choice. Most of the time I was peaceful and contented, but sometimes I felt isolated, lonely, purposeless, and melancholic.
Somewhat unwittingly, however, I had put myself in the inevitable situation where I would feel out of sorts, lonely, enervated, bored, and purposeless. I must have known that I needed to experience those feelings, and so when they came up, I sat with them until something moved within me and I accepted them as friends and necessary to balance the positive, optimistic disposition I was born with. I embraced the “big idea” that deep contentment comes when I am honest with myself.
The current pandemic is offering each of us permission to name our full array of feelings--from joy and gratitude to fear to despair. We are learning that we are not alone, not a bad people, not failures, nor do we need to keep up the façade that we are perfect. In being honest with ourselves we can be more honest with our friends. Honesty isn’t about good or bad; it is about truth and being fully human.