I was re-reading Michael Ventura’s brilliant piece, The Talent of the Room, and began thinking again about the power of solitude. *The full piece is printed with permission in my book, Write Naked.*
In a world where everything moves so fast, from a tap to like on an IG post to a swipe left to show interest in a person to busy talk shows crammed with opinions in rapidly rising voices as if the loudest can still win the argument—our world is created for noise.
After the pandemic hit, and people began to quarantine, the notion of solitude was a new element many struggled with. They went from busy offices bustling with activity to a computer at home in their office. Expensive lunches making big deals morphed into static emails. And weekends full of social commitments such as dinners and festivals and parties slowed to nothing.
Depression hit. Boredom. Relationships were tested. And as the world slowed to silence, some of us began to embrace this mysterious quality that we match to Buddhist monks or priests or people we like to term hermits.
In order to be a successful writer, we learn to thrive in solitude. But I’ve also learned this past year in my discovery of meditation, that within the quiet is so much more. There are answers that have been blocked by the endless voices of the mind, consistently planning, critiquing, pushing, and achieving.
I’ve begun to learn that by sitting in silence, I do more soul work than I do when I’m busy. Beyond the thoughts is more than quiet, it’s a way to figure out what’s important and what’s not. Who I am. What I want to say.
It’s been a gift I want to bring with me so even if it’s for 3 minutes of coming back to my breath, of focusing on one thing rather than my scurrying mind telling me I suck, or I better edit, or cook dinner, or do something useful, beyond that is a portal of endless opportunity and amazing stories, almost like a child giggling in a hidden closet while the parent stomps around trying to drag the child back to chores.
I like who I’m finding there. She’s certainly not perfect and has issues, and most of the time she’s a big fat mess, but that’s okay too. I don’t write about perfect characters either, because I couldn’t relate.
Within imperfection and mess is the good stuff. That’s what you find when you sit alone in a room to write, or when you sit in silence with yourself for those precious three minutes.
I’m beginning to like it there.
Maybe you can, too.