Solitude is Simplicity or is Simplicity Solitude?
Do you have a view? Which way round is it for you, if either?
You may want to ponder this and make your mind up later and perhaps, like some other things there is no answer.
What is solitude anyhow?
What is simplicity?
Simplicity is my theme of the month for September, coming across in articles, blogs, newsletters and social media posts and I’ve been asking many folk what it means to them or what the word conjures up for them. As you can imagine there are many different responses. If you follow me you might have seen some on my Instagram or Facebook feeds.
The Cambridge Dictionary tells us that it’s ‘the fact that something is easy to understand or do’; the fact that something is ordinary, traditional or natural and not complicated or plain and has no decoration’. Covers a lot.
Solitude is ‘the situation of being alone without other people’ and ‘the situation of being alone often by choice.’
Regarding the first definition of ‘Solitude’ I would put forward the point that you can still be in solitude or choose solitude when surrounded by others. Take the Camino de Santiago for example. On the Spanish side especially, one is rarely physically alone. The popularity of this path calls many thousands, in fact hundreds of thousands, to walk every year.
But you can still make the choice to walk alone and because of the spirituality of this path, people understand and respect that. When I walked my Camino, I did so with the same friend year upon year and often we would walk side by side but engaged in our own thoughts, not communicating at all. At other times we would choose to walk physically alone, sometimes needing that space to enable our thinking and mental exploration.
Sometimes, solitude is not chosen, sometimes it happens. Some people love it, some struggle. How do you find it? Do you welcome the quiet, the space, the peace or do you fill it with sound, music or TV or something else?
On the Camino, long straight paths would often be like an enforced solitude for me. Perhaps it would be a few days in and conversation was not so plentiful. Perhaps the scenery was not inspiring. This was like a mental rather than physical solitude. There was little stimulation for me on paths like this. Those deeply religious and those on the Camino to find themselves may indeed welcome these times as a chance to delve deep and many would say this is what you walk the Camino for. I got better at this but in the early days and sometimes still, depending on my frame of mind, I would fill my thoughts with mantras, repeating them over and over. I could get lost within these for long periods of time.
And one other thought about solitude is with regard to prayer or just sitting quietly in one of the many churches or chapels. You could be here on your own, perhaps there may be others but you may not know them so it’s like being alone or could you even be in the
middle of a service and be in solitude?
Plenty of food for thought.
As for the link with simplicity…….what do you think?
As I draw this to a close I wonder about the link with mindfulness too and the chance to be in the moment which is one of the things mindfulness teaches. Often easier to be in the moment in solitude. No distractions from others though perhaps distractions from things around us that we notice? For me mindfulness bring simplicity too. So many intertwined factors.
If you are interested in mindfulness and trying it out to see what you think about all 3 terms then why not give the 7 Days of Mindful Walking a go.