“Wherever I am, the world comes after me.
It offers me its busyness. It does not believe
that I do not want it. Now I understand
why the old poets of China went so far and high
into the mountains, then crept into the pale mist.” Mary Oliver
I like quiet. When I feel lost, I retreat home. Sitting in my office, the familiar seeps into my veins. The sound of my fingers moving on the keys of my laptop, the slice of light that smile through the blinds, and the smell of fresh, brewed coffee give me permission to take a deep breath. Sinking into an unforgettable sigh, smelling quiet is like a spellbinding potion.
For so many years, I resisted solitude. The constant busy in my life became an unshakeable trance. Even after a long commute to work, I planned activities in the evening that ensured that gaping holes of silence would fail to materialize. These jam-packed seconds left me tired and irritated. I needed a way to balance my desire for extroversion and a means to cultivate my introverted spirit. As I get older, I lean more toward my quieter self. Large crowds overwhelm, noisy places interfere with my constitution, and the notion of being “popular” is a wholly unfulfilling proposition.
This past year, on the recommendation of several people I trust, I read Susan Cain’s book, Quiet, a careful study on extroversion and introversion. As I delved further into her work, I realized that for many years I wrongly classified myself as an extrovert. The clearest indication of my extroversion depended on my former profession as an attorney. To varying degrees, I did and still do gravitate toward being social. Small intimate parties, getting together at home with friends, and a vigorous debate on a subject that matters stirs excitement and a forum to voice my beliefs. But like most, I possess a multitude of contradictions. While reading this book, I learned, at the core, my introverted self offers the most comfort. I enjoy solitude, prefer long periods where I delve into my thoughts, and uninterrupted hours where my focus is writing.
There are periods where life directs me toward a more social perimeter. I understand this. In the middle of it, I grow weary, but now I am adept at recognizing that I really crave is solitude. For reasons I am unable to decipher, I balked at the notion that I required this quiet time, because for years I convinced myself that I needed to be more social to fill the disconnect that hovered in and around me. Really, though, all these years I required the fullness of quiet. It is comforting staying at home. Reading a book, writing in my journal, listening to the owls at night or the chirp of the birds in the morning, and the echo of all of the everyday movements of my home.
The quiet is all the noise I need.
It is nice to embrace the quiet. This week is spring break and I didn’t need to rush to get Daniel off to school, I found myself in bed just thinking enjoying the darkness and quiet for a few extra minutes every morning. 🙂
Thank you so much for this post, Rudri. I’ve always held jobs that have required me to be social, an extrovert and for years didn’t know how to enjoy being alone. Once I understood the difference between alone and loneliness I began to embrace solitude. I now find myself at first a bit awkward in groups of people I don’t know…I enjoy being with others but find I’m most comfortable with myself.
For so many years, I thought I was strange for enjoying being alone. I thought there was something wrong with me because I wasn’t an extrovert, something that needed to be fixed if I really wanted to be “perfect. ” But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to embrace that an introvert is who I am because it is the way I was made. And I have found that introverts are the people I most enjoy being around. There is a depth, a carefulness, and a thoughtfulness about them. Guess that’s why I like you so much, Rudri!:)
Visiting from SITS – a beautiful blog post. I love the way you write about how important quiet is and solitude. I love quiet and solitude as well but since the birth of my twins it is almost impossible to find. I often seek out a table at a local cafe and write there. While it isn’t quiet it is devoid of the sounds of my busy household.
Love your blog! Glad to have found you 🙂
Lovely post. I feel the same way. I often need to be “on” for my job, but when I come home I want quiet. That’s kind of hard to do with 3 kids, but once I get them to bed, I like to read or watch TV or write. I also try to take a mid-day break at lunch and journal or go for a walk. I suppose some could say I am being anti-social, but I need these moments to recharge. Stopping by from SITS Sharefest. Happy Saturday!
Great post! I enjoy quiet and solitude myself. I don’t get too much of that but when I do, I like to work n “self”. Weather its meditation, exercise (Tai Chi or dance), reading metaphysical and occult books. I value the time that I get as best as I can because it’s so far and in between. You must learn to love and be with yourself.
“The quiet is all the noise I need.”
This really captures it for those of us who need solitude. I’ve always spent a good deal of time alone and like it, generally, which doesn’t preclude enjoying socializing or craving that as well. But I do note the difference in those who are uncomfortable with time on their own versus people who are restless or less effective without it.
I’m certainly one of the latter.
Well you’re talking to a kindred spirit here, in fact I *need* solitude for good mental health. Time for me, alone, has always been important to me but like so many things it became polarised post illness so that now crowds and too much noise can, after a while, make me quite stressed and tearful. Seeing the comments above, together with the comments of other writers I enjoy reading makes me realise that there are many more of us out there than I realised … and we seem to instinctively gravitate towards each other on the internet. 🙂