The Power of Being Alone
All by myself in a foreign country, 3000 miles from home
This is how I spent my last few days in Mexico, after a writing retreat was over and everyone had gone home. I fumbled quite a bit with the language (it had been over 35 years since I last spoke Spanish) but was able to make my way through the city and order food and exchange small pleasantries with the people I passed on the street. Sure I met new people because everyone was SUPER friendly, but I was essentially alone, in company with my own thoughts, following whatever path my feet took me on. There were awkward moments, and times I really wished my family or a friend was with me. But being on my own was powerful and after a few days something beautiful happened.
I realized that I’m good company!
That my thoughts are interesting, that creativity blossoms when I stare off into space, and that the sounds and smells and colors around me seem more vibrant…. or perhaps I’m more aware of them. That yes, talking to myself, and singing on the rooftop is ok, (but probably best done when others aren’t within hearing distance).
‘Being alone’ is one of the concepts I touched upon in a writing prompt (given by Laurie Wagner of Wild Writing): ‘Things to Remember Before the Journey’. I invite you to listen in to my stream-of-consciousness writing:
Are you someone who craves alone time? Or do you feel awkward and lonely hanging out with yourself, walking alone through a strange town, eating at a table with only one place setting?
Your answer probably depends on whether you tend to be introverted or extroverted of course. Most of us are somewhere in between and many of us are uncomfortable or get very lonely spending long stretches of time alone. Yet I believe whether you are introverted or extroverted, we can ALL benefit by some alone time. And I mean really alone, without our normal stimuli - no phones, or books, or knitting, or gardening… just alone with our thoughts, and listening to the world around us.
Are you up for a challenge?! Let’s spend some time alone. Turn off all devices, resist the urge to busy yourself with projects and just sit and ponder, or go for a walk and let your mind wander. And when you do, pay attention to your thoughts, explore them a bit and when you come back in, jot down some of the interesting bits that your mind kept chewing on.
And no, you don’t need to spend 6 days alone in a city in the middle of Mexico! Instead, let’s put on the timer for just 10-15 minutes and see what happens.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below:
Were you comfortable spending time alone? Or was it hard?
What stood out for you? Were your thoughts interesting? Weird? Inspiring?
Were you hyper-aware of the sounds and smells and colors around you? Or were you lost in your own thoughts?
Is there someone in your life who would appreciate these ideas? Please share this post with them!
Remember that YOU deserve a colorful, vibrant and creative life!