I know the last thing most people want to read about is being stuck inside, or rather, stuck with themselves for extended periods of time, restless and grasping for some sort of relief or escape from the fact that they are very alone. Perhaps, we could look at it differently.
I recently saw, while doom-scrolling the void of Twitter, a screen capture of Tarkovsky’s response to an interviewer asking him, “What would you tell young people?”. He responded with—“learn to love solitude … to be more alone with ourselves.”
This is something, for us writers, and I think on a greater scale as humans, that feels deeply essential to our condition. This, also, feels highly conducive to our creative process.
I took a moment before writing this to sit quietly in my cramped, windowless office. The books sat still and continued to collect dust. The lamp’s yellow hue gave my hands the appearance of being slightly desolate, and the veins, sticking out like rivers between the valleys of my knuckles, became more pronounced.
There was a low, faint hum. The electricity in the house on a never-ending surge to keep the lights and every other device on unnerved my aloneness for a miniscule moment. The screen before me, a blank page; a white heat that burns the eyes which can only be subdued by the act of putting these blackened letters to digital paper to form some sort of coherent thought.
After a few seconds, I noticed the washing machine running in the other room chaotically with leftover pocket change tapping as the clothing tumbled. My ears became attentive to the lack of rhythm, and then I noticed my heartbeat.
As my heart continued to drum, my mind slowly went to a place where I became uncomfortable in my skin.
I looked around the room at the entirety of my outward personality defined by these books before me, the guitars tightly packed beside each other, and pages upon pages of chicken-scratch notes that, more than likely, I’ll toss out because I can’t read my own handwriting. The hum faded, and I became closer, almost, to the fact that, in this moment, I am alone but I am okay with being alone.
My mind tumbles like the pocket change in the washing machine and brings to me, seemingly out of left field, images of things I thought I had forgotten. Simple things we normally don’t pay much attention to, like the way the grass feels on an early summer morning, and the way a tree bends during late fall as it reveals its skeleton free of leaves.
I remembered these tangible feelings.
In this moment, I didn’t think about what I had to do that day or what I had to accomplish. No shopping list of hectic pursuits, minor or major. Just my brain giving me images and I, the solitary viewer, watching them pass by like a slideshow.
It’s daunting, this thing of ours. To be creative and to be persistently fighting with the parts of ourselves that make us a creative being, that make us an empathetic bag of bones worthy of telling stories.
It’s in these moments, whether they be single flashes of drifting away into a daydream or stretched out periods of time, that hold the most truth to us because no matter how lonely this feels, how direly separated we think we are from the rest of the world, in spite knowing there is someone else out there who feels the exact same way we do, it’s something that, to me, is a great gift.
To be alone. With yourself. To be within the fabric that makes you who you are, to be unnerved by dangerous thoughts that bring us odd comfort.
To be. Simply to be and be still, at that.
To me, there is great power in stillness. Taking the time to isolate yourself, not in a cruel, self-punishing way, but in a service to yourself as a human being and as a creative being.
This, I choose to find, is something to cherish and hold with great reverence.
*Feature image by Fran_kie (Adobe)