The Power of One

2014-10-20 14:20

The silence of aloneness is a thrill. There is nothing that moves me more than to open my apartment door to be greeted by naught but the empty spaces which spell out the simplicity of the place I call “Home”.  To lock the world outside and to find myself in the space of my own design accompanied by solitude is a luxury I can never aim to replace.  Aloneness and privacy becomes a refuge in a world where the common thread of everyday life is the currency of news slots, the second to second updates on Twitterville and the busyness of my nine-to-five gig which consumes my days with duties I have to fulfill seated between an office cubicle unit.  So getting back “Home” and finding oneself in the presence of absence, greeted by the voice of silence and embraced by the reality of solitude slows everything down. Every second ticks and tocks under the submission of my own personal instruction. The afterhours of my day can bow to the authority of my indulgence; no one can instruct me what I should do with the remainder of hours that are yet to pass by. And I can demand that “This is my time”.

What I relish the most about the “home-alone” reality is that anything is possible within this sphere: from indulging in a "candle lit" bath to picking up a book and getting lost in a world of words which live momentarily, yet infinitely, in your mind. Let’s not forget the delight in sitting silently in a darkened room listening to your favorite piece of music – which nobody knows you love or even cares to know. Aaaah, the bliss of it all.  The best for me is the process of preparing a meal for myself, and no-one else. The joy here is that what is presented on the plate spells out the infinite possibilities of my own cravings: from the homey, warm and snowy iputhu over-flooded by the creaminess of inkomazi to the more practical plating of chunky pieces of cheese, cold meats, cherry tomatoes and a nice piece of bread. Whether preparing a piece of steak or even a rich stew all that I indulge in is simply what “me, myself and I” demands to consume at the time. There is no one else to impress.

This self-indulgence is not selfishness, however it is a curative process where the self is re-appreciated and the only voice you can succumb to is the "One" in your head and heart. As one of my favorite poet,  Kahlil Gibran, puts it: Were it not for this solitude and this seclusion you would not be you and I would not be I.” As a loner, yet extrovert in one go, I appreciate the sense of aloneness due to the fact that during the day I am too engaged with my environment. Maybe at times too much. I care too much of what’s around me; my job, the people, the information and the things I interact with during the day. So at times I tend to over-talk, over-discuss, over-do and over-laugh and I really get stuck-in to  the things I engage with during the day. So at the end of the day, I am left with no other reflex than the comforts of this precious gift of aloneness.

Anneli Rufus highlights this to my satisfaction in her book Party of One: The Loners’ Manifesto. She says the following :“Yet here we are, not sad, not lonely, having the time of our lives amid their smear campaign. We are the ones who know how to entertain ourselves. How to learn without taking a class. How to contemplate and how to create. Loners, by virtue of being loners, of celebrating the state of standing alone, have an innate advantage when it comes to being brave — like pioneers, like mountain men, iconoclasts, rebels and sole survivors. Loners have an advantage when faced with the unknown, the never-done-before and the unprecedented". It’s not that we don’t enjoy the company of others; you would be missing the point if that is your assertion. Many of us have many friends, love people and community, but this sacred seclusion is simply a device which enables us to engage with the world around us. Our time-out informs how we interact with spaces where “work and play” with others is required. The books we read, the silences we listen to, the hobbies we have adopted and the indoors life we appreciate is a form of asset for our development as individuals and this helps us to deal with the outside world.

Yes, it is true that loners are misunderstood and made fun of. Usually, we have been stereotyped as anti-social or pompous or “lonely” or described as “out of touch” people. Well, some of these stereotypes could be true, but it is commonplace (or so it should be) to know that stereotypes are one dimensional and in fact boring. All of the perceived views are off the mark. As an extrovert I find it strange myself that one moment I am around a long dinner table chatting with friends or dancing the night a way, however, more often than never, the next moment I have a need to escape to my personal cave. It’s intuitive to locate myself in a zone where it’s just “me, myself and I”.  It’s not that I am not having fun, or dislike the company I am in, it is just that solitude can be the more "preferred" and our quiet addiction.

My favorite cliché quote on the subject is by C.S Lewis who apparently said that “we live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence and privacy, and true friendship”. Maybe this may sound presumptuous but that’s what it is; hermits have a deep instinct and desire for seclusion and privacy. Here the benefits are satisfying; as we live in the pile of books, we can dance alone to the sound of our own music collection, enjoy our board or puzzle games and quiet ourselves in meditation and prayer. In fact there are a plethora of things that one can do in his/her own space.

I know we live in an unrelenting culture where many live for the weekend so to be occupied with an extreme event so to Instagram the “fake-fairy” tale on our online timeline. We live in times where the experience of the socializing-scene is the emphasis. We are bombarded by announcements of out-of-this-world clubbing experiences and lured in to far flung holiday destinations “for rest and the experience of calm”. However, the possibility of calm is always a near possibility. In fact it is right there at your door step, in your backyard and your living room.

There are those that claim that this is impossible, since people have jobs which call for long hours, others have children creating innocent havoc in their congested flat apartments and many have to complete the chores associated with family life. However, this space I am talking about is about having the disciple to create this space and time for aloneness. But it is all dependent on scheduling your time and activities with your family, friends and lovers and creating a mere moment for stillness and solace.

In a liberal world of expression, exploration and adventure, in a world of convenience characterized by the need to be informed and being part of the mayhem of immediacy, in a world of daily activity, of fulfilling tasks, of creating and of maintaining relationships we can create a sense of balance. We can find a place of: a world where we have silences to fill our lives. We can forge a world where prayer and meditation can drown out the noise which fills our lives from contemporary voices, some who usually are the hubbub of pessimism and negativity. We can create space where soundless activities can be re-introduced back into our lives. We can stop and think clear of  what we know. You can sieve through your thoughts to confirm that they belong to you.  We can take that afternoon walk and clear  your head for no other reason than for the sake of it. We can refrain from only gathering at religious events but can form an unregulated environment of communion in privacy for ourselves; where our faith refines what is dear to us.

In a world that is ready to go “somewhere” and where everyone is ready to claim something, let us not forget to remind ourselves there is space and time to stop and stay right in the moment, to be present, to shut the outside voices. We can remind ourselves that there is still time for meditation, reflection and prayer.

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