The Value of Solitude

“Remember then that there is only one important time, and that time is now.  The most important one is always the one you are with.  And the most important thing is to do good for the one who is standing at your side.  For these, my dear boys, are the answers to what is most important in this world.  This is why we are here.”    –Tolstoy

I would argue that, too often, there exists a strange expectation within us that another person will fulfill all that we believe we need. It seems that we’ve accepted a strange standard from other people in this world – we glorify and expect so much, but we forget that we are asking these things from humans … and that these are ideals that we could hardly meet ourselves, let alone anticipate from someone else (romantic or otherwise). There is a bold fulfillment that we insist others provide for us, and because we believe so intently that it will happen one day, we forget to cultivate our own selves, or prepare the vessel, so to speak.

I fear the false necessity of another person to confirm my own identity or concept of what I should be doing.  In this sense, I believe that solitude and the unfairly regarded notion of loneliness are, in fact, invaluable assets that we have overlooked … if one cannot or has not had adequate time alone, how could one know what or who they want their time spent on?  There is a deeper, separate reward from enjoying the occasional moment of solitude.  We are caught, now, battling a world that we want to catch up to in terms of its speed and complexity — but we also need (want?) to respect our own nature and the necessity of the present moment (so much more difficult in practice).

If we lose our ability to be alone, or to merely pause, I fear that the pressure placed on human relationships and these rather inhumane expectations will, very sardonically, destroy much of the potential for genuine partnership.  By casting away the call for excellence from ourselves and asking it of others – or by simply hoping in an abstract way that another person will know us better than we know ourself – we will only find disappointment.  But I think, in the best way possible, if we have known ourself and we have known solitude, we are much better equipped to honor another person for who they are – and in doing so, both individuals are liberated from the severity of judgment and the possessiveness of the “strange expectation.”