“In real life we deal not with gods, but with ordinary humans like ourselves: men and women who are full of contradictions, who are stable and fickle, strong and weak, famous and infamous, people in whose bloodstream the muckworm battles daily with potent pesticides.” – Nelson Mandela
For the most part in life I have been a solivagant. I have spent a great deal of time on my own walking my path. In many ways that is just my nature. I definitely march to the beat of my own drum, you wouldn’t get much argument on that point. I totally enjoy the company of others and have had my share of relationships. Each one of them has been special to me in their own way but I think the longest lasted a year. In the end I’ve ended up friends or at least on good terms with most of them, which is how I prefer things to be. Then I am on my path again exploring the vast outer world, though mostly my vast inner world.
That darkness was pure, perfect, thoughtless, visionless; that darkness was without end, without borders; that darkness was the infinite we carry within us. (Yes, if you’re looking for infinity, just close your eyes!)
The Unbearable Lightness of Being – Milan Kundera
I think time on your own is invaluable in life. It is integral in getting to know your inner self. For me that exploration of my inner world is imperative to my well-being. If I didn’t take that time I would be lost. In addition I am very introverted so if I don’t get that time I can’t rewind my batteries. One of the benefits of knowing and learning about your inner self is developing that strong sense of self that we all require. It allows us the capacity to reflect on our strengths and our weaknesses. If we get to know the real person inside of us we are able to work on improving ourselves. This is a constant challenge for each of us; something we will undertake for the rest of our lives. If we discover ourselves then we can learn to trust ourselves, which is often tough to accomplish.
There have been several long periods in my life where I was quite comfortable forging my own way. During those times I have worked on myself and therefore I knew I wasn’t ready to be in a relationship. My philosophy is that I want to be the strongest and best me I can be when in a relationship. I want to be the best me for that other person, because if I am in a relationship with them I feel they deserve that. We learn very different things about ourselves when we are in a relationship and when we are not. I think they are both important in our development. If I find someone I am compatible with I like to spend every possible minute with them. Though over time I have learned to be more comfortable with the moments we don’t spend together. That used to be a point of anxiety for me; I felt if the other person couldn’t spend time with me it must mean there was some flaw in me. I couldn’t accept that they had a life and other priorities. Ego was in the way again, telling me that I was the most important person in both of our lives. That was something I spend a great deal of time and energy working on so that I could recognize and respect both of our priorities and existences.
The other aspect of this is I know that there is always a chance any relationship could end. There are various reasons this will be and we always hope that day will never come. Of course at the end we all feel a sense of loss and sadness, but I can generally accept that these things run their course. That also allows me to accept when the end has come; often we stay places we should no longer be because of some sense of obligation. It is beneficial to take a period of healing and reflection afterward to work through whatever residual issues emanated from the relationship. If we never get to know our inner self and we instead identify with our relationships we can feel very lost and unworthy when the relationship does end. I have noticed that some people just jump into another relationship for fear of being alone, often to their own peril. I believe if you have a strong sense of self you can overcome those tough turns life takes, because ultimately you know you can stand strongly on your own when you need to. You are in a relationship because you want to be not because you feel you have to be. There is a very big distinction there.
I cherish my independence. One of my favourite and influential novels of all time is Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. I am most intrigued and captivated by the Ferryman chapter when Siddhartha goes back to live with Vasudeva. I love the revelation Siddhartha has about the water and how although it ran incessantly it was still always there. It was at all times the same and yet new in every moment. This is exactly what all of us are like. We generally grasp our sameness, but we don’t often recognize what is new for us in every moment. That takes some contemplation and focus. I also admire Vasudeva’s gift for listening, which is such an important skill. That they learned from the river to strive downwards and seek depth. Three passages I like:
Without him having spoken a word, the speaker sensed how
Vasudeva let his words enter his mind, quiet, open, waiting, how he
did not lose a single one, awaited not a single one with impatience,
did not add his praise or rebuke, was just listening. Siddhartha felt,
what a happy fortune it is, to confess to such a listener, to bury in
his heart his own life, his own search, his own suffering.
Most of all,he learned from it to listen, to pay close attention with a quiet heart,
with a waiting, opened soul, without passion, without a wish, without
judgement, without an opinion.
“It is this what you mean, isn’t it: that the river is everywhere
at once, at the source and at the mouth, at the
waterfall, at the ferry, at the rapids, in the sea, in the mountains,
everywhere at once, and that there is only the present time for it, not
the shadow of the past, not the shadow of the future?”
So again on my path I wander. One aspect of life I will be working on is how to disengage in difficult situations. I’m generally able to do it with ease but there are certain situations that when confronted I feel compelled to engage the other party. I feel very out of control in those situations and it doesn’t do me any good physically, mentally or emotionally. It just kicks up my adrenaline. So at the first sign of this I will disengage from now on. This must be my practice as part of being the best me I can be. In that spirit I will contemplate the following sage advice from Anthony Hopkins:
“So I live my life in non-expectation. My philosophy is: It’s none of my business what people say of me and think of me. I am what I am and I do what I do. I expect nothing and accept everything. And it makes life so much easier.” – Anthony Hopkins