Why I Cultivate Solitude
Joseph Roux, an 18th century French artist, is credited with saying that solitude vivifies and isolation kills. Given my experience, I agree with him.
Solitude renders me glad to be alive and it promotes in me feelings of appreciation for everything, especially for other people. In contrast, isolation saps me of energy and leads me to question the value of most everything, especially of people.,
My goal then is to avoid isolating myself from the world. Instead, I strive to cultivate the solitude that leads to a more intimate rapport with my fellow human beings and with life itself. With a little effort one can cultivate solitude amid a crowd and relish the crowd in the bargain.
To this end, I try to make full use of my faculties and senses and to read much, especially the writing of other solitary people who have been kind enough to share their understanding so that others might benefit.
I have leaned much from Thomas Merton who claimed that solitude is not something one can hope to find in another place and another time. He considered solitude itself to be a “deepening of the present” and, as such, something that can only be found in the here and now. “Unless you look for it in the present,” he wrote, “you will never find it.”
Perhaps Merton’s words serve to explain better than do my own why I labor to be here in the present, where every moment is gift enough forever, and where my solitude might be lucky enough to meet yours.