Last October, I came to Nepal for the first time with a flurry of feelings. I met an enchanting Italian girl in Malaysia a month prior. We had a great spark and a wonderful connection to which we both wanted to explore. I was excited to see where things would lead in this land of high mountains with a new friend and potential partner.
It took less than a week for us to derail and go our separate ways.
The Traveling Blues
Afterwards, I felt really dishearten and quite lost. I didn’t know what I was doing in Nepal. I had no plans beyond meeting up and going with the flow… I found myself lost in a river of thought. As I wondered around Pokhara, a beautiful lakeside city in Nepal, I couldn’t help but feel isolated from my experience. I questioned and replayed our last few days. I spent several days walking and listening to this internal dialogue, trying to make sense of my feelings and the direction of my path forward.
What bothered me more was that – it seemed that everywhere I went, I would walk past groups of people chatting with each other, and couples smiling and having dinner together. It made me feel isolated and alone. I missed my circle of friends, the people close to me on the other side of the world. I craved being seen and heard and not having to explain my life history to a new face on the road. I missed home and I missed familiarity. Part of me felt ashamed to have taken this leap of faith, and I didn’t have the heart to talk it out with anyone. I felt myself muddling through doubt and direction… It was a rough current to move through.
Choosing to be Alone
What I realized in my time of reflection and healing was this:
loneliness and solitude are different things.
Loneliness is hitting a downward spiral.
It’s a feeling of insecurity hiding behind a veil of not being seen. It’s casting doubt on oneself, leading to to a lack of insecurity to connecting with others. When I saw folks sitting together, I felt a sense of envy and longing for their connection with each other. At the heart of this feeling was a disconnect to my sense of belonging. I was labeling myself in way that was alienating – allowing the chatter of doubt and confusion to take over.
Solitude on the other hand is a choice to be alone.
It’s retreat for our creative nature – to make music, to create art – to find our well of inspiration. It’s a walk to find clarity and gather strength. It can be easy as sitting down to sip a cup of tea, or taking some time to take a walk, or even a nap. It stems from a desire to be away from the external forces that stir us so that we can find the voice within. This is the path to visualize our dreams and keep our hearts pulsing. With solitude we hone in on our deepest callings and our hidden impulses – we take notice of what it means to be aligned and unified with ourselves.
When I made the shift from feeling lonely to taking an active period of solitude, the world shifted. I was empowered by an active choice for self growth. It brought out an internal fire in me to create, and learn and be curious — this is the part of me that sparks – and magnet that connects me to others.
I kept coming back to these words by Gabrielle Roth:
In many shamanic societies, if you came to a shaman or medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions.
– When did you stop dancing?
– When did you stop singing?
– When did you stop being enchanted by stories?
– When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence?
So I read. And I sang. And I moved. And I listened. And at the heart of all this, I found the solitude to smile at the part of me that was alive and shining.
Make the distinction between loneliness and solitude. Find the spark to ignite your solitude and the world will come back to you.