The journey from loneliness to solitude has become one of the hardest things I have done besides my own identity acceptance. You see I love to be around people, I like to get together with friends and have coffee, a glass of good wine or even a good dark beer. Conversations with others make my life more interesting an create a safe and comfortable space for me. People has been the fuel of my daily life. I value quite times and long hiking, but in every day of the week I would like to be surrounded by people, activities, dinners, coffee times and everything that could easy my mind. One of the strongest weakness I have is to be a people pleaser, always trying to be nice with everybody else in order to have a more pleasant time during my life in this earth. Confrontation? This word is clearly not in my dictionary.
Pema Chodron, the American Buddhist nun days that we do not have to even see loneliness as a problem but as stage to find ourselves, “Cool loneliness allows us to look honestly and without aggression to our minds. We can gradually drop our ideas of who we think we ought to be, or who we think we want to be, or who we think other people think we want to be or ought to be. We give it up and just look directly with compassion and humor at who we are. Then loneliness is not threat and heartache, no punishment” Henry Nouwen quotes, “By running away from our loneliness and by trying to distract ourselves with people and special experiences, we do not realistically deal with our human predicament”.
In the last months I have found myself enduring many moments of loneliness, excruciating seconds, minutes and hours that created a space where I encounter the most difficult person: myself. So for the first time in my life I am diving into an unknown territory fill of new feelings, new and old fears, and for certain many uncertainties. Some days are good, others are not as good but my goal is to learn from my loneliness, to accept it in order to create a space of solitude. What I mean of solitude is the discovery of my inner sanctuary so I can accept myself as a unique person with everything that makes myself as a great and wonderful creation. Solitude is the space where loneliness starts to create; the space where life is reborn; where I can say “yes” to who I am without being embarrassed, guilty or ashamed. “Instead of running away from our loneliness and trying to forget or deny it, we have to protect it and turn it into a fruitful solitude. To live a spiritual life we must first find the courage to enter into the dessert of our loneliness and to change it by gentle and persistent efforts into a garden of solitude”(Nouwen)
I can have the words of many people, the wisdom of teachers, the encouragements of friends, or even the words of people that without asking them, they feel with the right to say something or even advice you with what they think should be the best way to follow, “but the real spiritual guide is the one who, instead of advising us what to do or to whom to go, offers us a chance to stay alone and take the risk of entering into our own experiences” (Nouwen)
So being alone or feeling loneliness is not a bad place to be, but the start of a new journey to solitude: to go deeper in myself, attentive to every bump in the road, to be able to listen with my heart instead of my mind, to be able for the first time to be present with myself and not be afraid. To rebuild my life based in my inner love so I can also build my own local community; and “ to pay attention to the word and the words of others instead of selecting just those remarks and events that bring us immediate satisfaction to our own cravings” (Nouwen)
So if you are the kind of person that love to ask questions and would like to know more, if you are the one who always have the best advice to give or the most accurate Bible verse to share; I am sorry to disappoint you but according to Nouwen, who has become my spiritual director, “The mystery of love is that it protects and respects the aloneness of the other and creates the free space where he can convert his loneliness into a solitude that can be shared”