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“Solitude” – A. A. Milne

I have a house where I go
When there’s too many people,
I have a house where I go
Where no one can be;
I have a house where I go
Where nobody ever says “no”;
Where no one says anything- so


There is no one but me.

I have just returned from a pleasant visit with The Best Friend. He lives in a small town that seems so quiet compared to Phoenix. Other than watching a movie, we did not have TV or a radio. He does not carry a cellphone. When we were out and about there was a sensation of being unaccessible. The world couldn’t get at us and didn’t even know where we were.  It gave me a lovely feeling of Solitude.

Being alone with ones self (or with a select group) is a delicious sensation. Introverts will readily appreciate this.  I suspect few people in the younger generations have experienced Solitude – or even desire it. They seem constantly in touch with each other via texting and calling. They become uncomfortable at the notion of ‘being alone’.  Once upon a time a young patient came to me for anxiety while hiking. He discovered his cellphone had no coverage and for the first time (ever?) he couldn’t call anyone, nor could they call him. He found the experience horrible, and thus had a panic attack. He expected me to relate to this.  He was bewildered, even offended, when I suggested being by himself was a worthwhile thing to cultivate.

I remember reading Maya Angelu makes a concerted effort to ‘disappear’ from time to time. Sensible woman!  I too long to be alone at times when nobody can find or get hold of me – particularly patients.

I seldom experience Solitude. What gets in the way is my cellphone, which I carry for work. By now, 24/7 accessibility has become so integral to my life, when it is not there I feel vaguely uncomfortable. There is something not quite right about being there 24/7 for everyone.  Only a few times in my professional life I have been ‘not available’; it was absolutely lovely.

Well, I can work on this. I can turn off the laptop and not answer the phone. As a bonus, I can turn off the the ipod and create Silence, another state of being even more rare than Solitude.

Yes, this needs to happen again very soon – and often.

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September 2010

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