The Power of Solitude


The Ability to Be Happily Alone is the Ultimate Attribute of Personal Power

I myself have gone back and forth between a life of gregarious social interaction and quiet solitude, and have enjoyed each in its own way. This has ranged from living in a commune to solitary confinement at Folsom State Prison for a year. I should note, however, that I bribed the housing clerk a case of Ramen noodles each month to not assign me a cellmate during that year.

As a writer and someone who meditates, contemplates, and daydreams a lot, I have never felt freer than when I am alone by choice. New research is showing that creativity flourishes more in quiet solitude than in companionable collaboration. There is a trend now to put all sorts of employees into teams, and I have even facilitated team-building workshops for several major corporations in the past. But the evidence is showing us now that this may be counterproductive.

finland-905712_1920I do believe, also, that unless someone feels comfortable being alone, he or she cannot have a really fulfilling love relationship. Too many people get into relationships because they cannot stand being alone and want the other person to rescue them from this state. I personally have had two girlfriends with this issue, and it really got stressful and exhausting trying to meet their constant need for companionship and validation–which never seemed to satisfy them for more than a moment.

What brought about this post is the realization that I have never been happier than at this time in my life, when I am living in relative seclusion in my little apartment in Panama City. My neighborhood is very gregarious and lively, but I mostly sit in my ergonomic chair, thinking, writing, using the computer. And I have never been as creatively productive, exponentially so.

There are times when I have taken a break from my solitude, as I did appearing in two plays which each required several months of evening rehearsals. Just over a week ago, I was doing a stand-up comedy performance at the Canadian Thanksgiving Celebration. But interestingly, I attended that event alone. In my youth, that might have felt uncomfortable, but not anymore. I often go to restaurants on my own, though also enjoy the occasional meal with a friend. Perhaps the clearest sign that you are someone who can enjoy aloneness is taking a vacation trip on your own, and really enjoying it.

I am not committed to this life of a semi-hermit forever. I can definitely see a time in the future when I may want the comfort and joy of a committed relationship. But I do realize I will have to give up some of my solitude and quiet to have that, give up the satisfaction of my inner voice being the one I hear most. And the woman who would get me to change my current lifestyle would have to be a pretty spectacular person. Not only will she have to be very attractive and intelligent to my eyes, and have a sense of humor, and a creative imagination–but the first time, I have a new criteria–at least a very strong preference:  She will ideally be happily living alone when we meet.




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