“For a younger person it is almost a sin—and certainly a danger—to be too preoccupied with himself. But for the aging person it is a duty and a neccessity to give serious attention to himself. After having lavished its light upon the world, the sun withdraws its rays in order to illumine itself”
I love this period of my life, freed from all the constraints of living in a world conditioned by work, career, and childcare responsibilities. It has become a time of reflection, of introversion, questioning and quiet contemplation, trying to make sense of all that has gone before. And there is so much that has gone before. It’s now time to separate the important from the trivial and for some brutal honesty if these years are to be the best, but all this needs to be done without the distractions of everyday life. Solitude is what is needed.
Aloneness or isolation are forms of alienation from the rest of the world, which may or may not be conscious choices, but solitude is something quite different. It is a chosen act to be alone with ourselves for the sake of our soul. It is where we go to contemplate, to shut out the outside world and clutter so we can concentrate on the inner and immerse ourselves with just being.
My moments of solitude have arisen out of long periods of isolation and aloneness when the need to make sense of what was happening to me required concentrated attention without the distractions of noise or the opinions of others. I needed to be free of the layers and layers of rubbish that had built up over the years and to find a calm place deep within in order to peel away those layers and see what was really underneath. It has been a painful process, still under construction, but worthy of the effort.
Here is where my unfinished self lies waiting to live more closely with my principles. I can’t change any of the past but I understand it better and don’t have to feel paralysed by it or ashamed of what was. I can move forward, holding the past in one hand, the other outstretched towards the future and a serenity that I denied myself previously. Here is where I learn to move beyond what I thought were limitations, but only proved to be temporary boundaries, into the shaping of my soul.