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preserving solitude: a reflection on time spent alone

preserving solitude: a reflection on time spent alone

“How much better is silence; the coffee cup, the table. How much better to sit by myself like the solitary sea-bird that opens its wings on the stake. Let me sit here forever with bare things, this coffee cup, this knife, this fork, things in themselves, myself being myself.”

– Virginia Woolf

How do we cultivate a healthy relationship with solitude after a year (or more) of isolation?

As we transition from summer into autumn, there is a natural impulse to turn inward. To carve out space for comforting rituals; the glow of a candle set beside a beloved journal, the steam swirling up from a hot cup of tea. However, after a long year of looking inward with a hyper-focus on the importance of self-care rituals (honestly, there are only so many face masks and baths that one person can take!), another season of these familiar routines begins to feel a bit prosaic…

In many ways, autumn feels a bit like the beginning of the end. The leaves fall from the trees and the plants shrink down into the soil to avoid the incoming frost. The birds fly south and we creep inside, away from the crisp air that leaves our noses cold to the touch.

In many other ways, autumn represents the prologue to a new series. Leaves fall from branches to let the trees rest and recuperate before taking on new growth in the spring. The plants shrink down into the soil to grow upward when the sun beckons them back in the new year. The natural world reminds us of this shared understanding: now is a time to turn inward and that is okay . In fact, it is wholly necessary for carrying on.

Despite this understood necessity, the question lingers: how do we retain an appreciation for solitude after such a long year of isolation? How do we actualize this in our hearts and homes?

Perhaps in part, it is by reflecting on why we feel the impulse to turn inward; why the glow of a candle is so comforting as the days grow short and why the sensation of a fresh pen floating across a blank page feels hopeful and grounded.

Perhaps this appreciation is preserved through discovering new rituals for yourself; a new genre of book to read that you’ve never yet explored or maybe you dabble with homemade teas using leftover herbs from the garden.

We encourage you to engage in this exploration: How can you preserve an appreciation for solitude?

The answer to this question will look and feel different for everyone. However, the hope remains that there is nourishment to be found in solitude, wherever you may find it.

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