Monday, 6 May 2013

In praise of solitude

There is, I have come to realise, a vast difference between solitude and loneliness.  Solitude is something I cherish, something I relish, and something I look forward to.  I plan it at regular intervals.  This week was one of those planned breaks.  Escapes from the busy-ness of my life in London, with a deliberate change of environment to enable re-calibration and adjustment of pace and routine. 

Solitude, differentiated from loneliness can be creative and uplifting.  Chosen, rather than imposed, it is in my experience often benign and fruitful - necessary, longed for space in which to reflect and take stock.  That is not to say it is always an easy option.  It is certainly not to everyone's taste but a little time apart can be a necessity - solitude is required if the inward eye is to be allowed to open fully - crowds and noise tend to make our senses shrink. 

Wordsworth compared solitude to a blissful state.  For me, solitude is realistic - it is about recognising and respecting our inner balance.  Getting away from ourselves, and taking ourselves away from those we love and care about is not an admission of any failing, but I think rather about separation and individuation.  Only by being apart and alone can we reconcile those different and sometimes competing or contradictory parts of ourselves.  To reach a state of one-ness where there is no other we need the spaciousness afforded by solitude.       

I have grown to enjoy my own company.  Interspersed with wonderful time spent in the company of the many special people in my life, I have come to value quality time spent toute seule.  It is, for me, the ultimate opportunity to re-fresh and re-charge.  Returning somewhere that is by now familiar is a pleasure and a treat - I can venture as far as I wish to, or remain still. 

There is a busy time ahead of me.  I have plenty planned, and my Monday to Friday existence is generally fairly full.  For a start, there is some serious bicycle riding to be done.  I have the Ribbonride at Blenheim Palace in a couple of weeks' time, and a series of mini challenges spread throughout June and July, in anticipation of the big one - my first ever cyclo-sportive (one hundred miles for the uninitiated) on Sunday 4 August.  I think that's at least 450 miles accounted for.  I'm putting my wheels to good use. 

I believe I am built for endurance.  My experience confirms this.  I push myself - hard - and enjoy the aftermath.  I am already looking forward to the sense of achievement I hope to derive from my Ride 100 in aid of Breast Cancer Care and the British Lung Foundation.  My efforts will be well worthwhile.  Every penny raised for the two organisations will count for something.   

Please visit my fundraising site and support my efforts...

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