For the last month or so, I’ve been staying on a small island in the Southern Gulf Islands chain in BC. It’s about an hour’s ferry ride from the mainland, but a world away. Paradise, in fact. This has been an incredible opportunity for me to focus on my own writing – not for clients, not for a course, but purely for me. It’s been terrifying but liberating. Here I am actually telling people I’m on a writing retreat! The madness! (of course pesky Work has interfered here and there, but luckily I’ve got much better at showing her the door when I need to prioritise self care and relaxation).
It’s been so, so good. Challenging at times, to be on my own for the most part, in a fairly isolated way. But I am relishing Loneliness’s babe of a brother, Solitude. There’s this magical place you get to after a while out of your normal routine where suddenly the mild panic and cobwebbiness of Loneliness gives way to the delicious, deep contentment of being with Solitude. He lets me read, swim, listen to good music, have solo dance parties in the living room, and write without feeling guilty or alone. He lets me walk to the beach and stare at the water. He lets me take photos of flotsam and jetsam. He lets me watch lots of Gilmore Girls on Netflix, without judgement. He lets me have a birthday and a wedding anniversay (on my own) for the first time in a long time, and have a great time. And when Loneliness tries to get between us, he gently fobs him off.
Sometimes the soul needs Solitude to remind us that paradise is not that far away after all, and that we need to spend some time with ourselves in a quiet, gentle way so that we can be better to those around us, and nourish ourselves to cope with the day to day.