August 25, 2011


I am amazed at how many people do not like to be alone. I am amazed only because I find a lot of comfort in solitude. A trait in my personality is that I do need lots of time to myself to figure things out, to meditate and work through things. When I don’t get it, I don’t feel balanced and I feel out of sorts. It’s not that I don’t like people, its that I need time with myself, by myself to recharge and take things in.

I don’t mind being in my own skin

In fact I cherish it.

Sometimes I like to just walk or go for a drive and let the scenery pass by while I contemplate things. Other times I am in the mood to take in a movie- yes I like going to the movies by myself  on occasion. I even enjoy the occasional meal somewhere away from home by myself. But there is something about being able to sit by yourself in a crowded room and feel alone with your thoughts until someone intrudes.

Be able to be alone. Lose not the advantage of solitude, and the society of thyself. ~Thomas Browne

There is so much to do and think about when you are not in the company of others vying for your attention. You have life’s big questions to ponder as much as you have all your past life to review. You might have sudden bursts of creativity and salient thoughts worth contemplating.

For me, time by myself is a time to speak to myself and to God about the things on my heart. Conversational meditation and prayer if you like. I take full advantage of that when I am driving by myself. Which means almost no one has ever been privy to these moments.

I also do this at airports to keep the seats on either side of me empty.

Just kidding…

I would end up on the no fly list doing that ;)

Each time I am alone, I have a different experience with myself. I might be asking of myself questions about things that confuse me, about why I have preferences for certain things. I might come down on myself like a ton of bricks for the dumb and stupid mistakes I have made.

I chide myself frequently for my flaws and the difficulties I have with elements of self-improvement and self-mastery. I use these moments to remove any illusions I have about myself.

I am often contemplative when by myself, some of my best creativity comes to me when I am truly alone. Sometimes I follow a linear path to reach conclusions or a plan, other times my thoughts are more random and dynamic leading me to ideas I would never have contemplated.

“Meditation is the tongue of the soul and the language of our spirit” ~Jeremy Taylor

It’s an interesting thing to see my flaws and consider my weaknesses and still be able to think I am my own best friend. This is a goal of Stoic philosophy, to be a man who is comfortable enough to share space with himself in his own skin. Marcus Aurelius and Seneca both talk about this at length in their meditations.

Part of the fun of being by myself is that I don’t have to be impressive or put on the ritz. I already see and know the good, the bad and the ugly far more than anyone else who isn’t God.

It’s not that I present a different person to others, as much as they don’t see the whole person. I am okay with that too, I think every person should reserve thoughts for themselves that know one else knows about.

There is a reason why God is the only one who can discern our thoughts. We need to leave a few things for ourselves… we need the ultimate retreat which is right there between the temples.

Do you like being in your own skin? Can you handle being alone with your thoughts? Post up in the comments area with your experiences.

Article by Chris Harris @ Between the TemplesImage credit: AlicePopkorn

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