Alone is a word that stands by itself, carrying the austere, solitary beauty of its own meaning even as it is spoken to another. It is a word that can be felt at the same time as an invitation to depth and as an imminent threat as in "all alone," with its returned echo of abandonment.
"Alone" is a word that rings with a strange finality, especially when contained in that haunting aggregate, "left all alone," as if the state once experienced begins to define and engender its own inescapable world. The first step in spending time alone is to admit how afraid we are.
Being alone is a difficult discipline: a beautiful and difficult sense of being solitary is always the ground from which we step into a contemplative intimacy with the unknown, but the first portal of aloneness is often experienced as a gateway to alienation, grief and abandonment.
To find ourselves alone, or to be left alone is an ever present, fearful and abiding human potentiality of which we are often unconsciously and deeply afraid.
The permeability of being alone asks us to re-imagine ourselves, to become impatient with ourselves, to tire of the same old story and then slowly hour by hour, to start to tell the story in a different way as other parallel ears, ones we were previously unaware of begin to listen to us more carefully in the silence. For a solitary life to flourish, even if it is only for a few precious hours, aloneness asks us to make a friend of silence, and just as importantly, to inhabit that silence in our own particular way, to find our very own way into our own particular and even virtuoso way of being alone.
It is the doorway to the here and now. It is a form of alertness and particularity – a way in. It teaches us a fine economy, in movement, in the heart’s affections, in what we ask of ourselves and eventually in what we ask of others.
Pain is a beautiful humiliation that allows us to naturally be humble and force us to put aside the guise of pretense. It is the proper step to real compassion. It calls for a greater perspective, for a bigger, more generous humor – never far from real laughter, at the predicament of the physical absurdity that has become a daily experience.
Pain is also a lonely road, where no one can know the measure of our particular agonies, but through our experience we have the possibility of coming to know others as we have, with so much difficulty, come to know ourselves. Lastly, it is appreciation – for all simplest possibility and gifts of a pain-free life – and that all the rest is a bonus.
His name is David Whyte. An internationally acclaimed poet and author, he captures the reader as he addresses the heart and soul. Dispelling cultural myths prescribing success, happiness and how to "be", David draws us home, to ourselves, and the gift of being human.
The excerpts above are taken from his book Consolations, now in its eighth printing. It is a welcome read offering encouraging perspectives to everyday words, and nourishment to our one precious life.
It is my hope that these excertps inspire your curiosity to find out more about the writings of David Whyte.
For the Support of Your Life,
Paulette Jackson LPC-MHSP