I know something about the difference between social isolation and solitude. Living alone as I do, I often find myself talking to someone who’s not there. Lately it has been my beloved terrier who left me several months ago. Today, however, being stuck at home with no library, pool or other destination, I find myself talking to my plants as well. I suspect when they start answering I will really be in trouble!
Everybody is talking about social isolation as if it is a brand new life style. As someone who has lived alone for seven years, I’ve experienced social isolation first hand when I wake up in the night with no one beside me, or I cook a special Sunday dinner with no one to share it with. This is not a novel experience for the huge number of us who have lost our partners or perhaps family and friends. What I have learned over the years, however, is that there is a big difference between social isolation and solitude.
Isolation is a condition of being disconnected from social interaction. It is the breeding ground for loneliness and depression. We all know that social contact is vital to people. We are after all part of a collective called mankind. When we feel isolated, we have no purpose and fall prey to emotions of self-pity and hopelessness. Depression is not far behind. It is said the one of the most pressing issues for seniors is loneliness, but what if we could turn social isolation into a positive experience?
Solitude is a Gift
Solitude is a rare gift to ones self. Unlike isolation, which is an absence, solitude is an abundance. It provides an abundance of time to be quiet and still without the demands of everyday living among others. It is essentially a religious experience coveted by every religion the world over. In solitude we connect with the inner world of our true self. We reconnect with our spirituality and with the miracle of universal life. We are not alone. Those we loved have left their physical body behind yet the eternal energy that brought them into physical existence remains. In solitude we feel at a visceral level their enduring presence. It is in solitude that we come to feel oneness with all creation.
We Are One
It is not new age woowoo to say that we are part of every other living thing on the planet. Never has this been more apparent than during this global crisis. I believe it is as if through this pandemic the universe is telling us that with all the horrendous fires and floods and other calamities in our environment we have failed to change, perhaps with something calamitous to its people, we will finally be moved to go about the business of living differently.
Instead of dwelling on how alone I am I have discovered that I can make the most of this gift of time to recover my true self. It is possible to find purpose in solitude.
Whether physically alone or with others we love, we can collectively make use of this time of social isolation to reawaken what really matters and look ahead to how much more we will have to give to others when this pandemic is over.https://susanneeden.com/is-that-all-there-is/
Something to Think About
For many years I have a book in my collection called The House by the Sea, written by author May Sarton. I want to share a quote from this book to give you hope and optimism.
“Solitude like a long love, deepens with time and I trust, will not fail me as my own powers of creation diminish. For growing into solitude is one way of growing to the end.”
if we turn social isolation into solitude we give ourselves a rare gift