“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Blaise Pascal
Cal Newport’s book Digital Minimalism extensively discusses the idea of solitude and its importance.
So I have been searching for it…solitude.
Turns out it is harder to obtain than I initially thought.
He defines solitude as time without input from any source. No music, media, or conversation.
After tracking my moments of solitude for a few days, I realized they were just that–moments.
I could not artificially extend these moments, because once solitude leaves it is gone.
But then I heard about the Japanese concept of “ma,” or “pause.”
I discovered it in a children’s book, of all places!
A child in this story is searching for the greatest sound…silence. He cannot find the silence among all the noises and gets discouraged.
Then he finally finds the silence in an empty classroom and realizes, “It was between and underneath every sound. And it had been there all along.”
I think solitude is similar.
It can be those pauses in conversations, sitting next to a loved one.
It can be waiting for the trolley or train.
It can be that moment around the table when everyone is quietly savoring their food.
It can be this very moment while I write and my daughter colors across from me.
We do not have to fill every space or pause with noise…and we shouldn’t.
This silence and solitude is essential for our mental health and sanity.
These quiet moments are when we process our hardest thoughts and face reality.
These quiet moments are when we find gratitude and peace.
(This post also appeared on No Sidebar)