Get Used to Being Alone

Nearly 35 years ago I was reading a book on Sufism. The title of that book escapes me, but a line from it still resonates deeply: “Get used to being alone.”

It’s a message that’s opposite from what the world tells us: have lots of friends, be social and cultivate deep, meaningful relationships. Yet, the more I thought about the line over the years the more I realized the insight of its message.

Even if we’re surrounded with family and friends, even when we’re married, we still walk this journey alone. Yes, there is support, but everything we face – our fears and our anxieties, all of our experiences – we must conquer on our own. There are no magical fixes for any of life’s difficulties. Furthermore, if we are unable to be alone and find peace within ourselves, we can never develop as human beings.

By the same token, all creative people must recognize their need for productive solitude. On a practical and immediate level, artists cannot truly tap into the ether, to that wondrous place of creative ecstasy, if we are constantly inundated by interruptions.

On a deeper level, solitude often acts like a mirror. It reflects what we need to see, it reveals the problems we need to address, that which we must improve upon. If we have the courage to face our reflection and not look away, silence and solitude become an enlightening gift.

We must not take anything for granted. We must cherish our time alone and we must use that time to our creative advantage. Freedom comes through discipline, and solitude brings us the opportunity to calm our monkey mind and create the work that only a disciplined artist can produce.

Kaja Blackley is the author of Maggie MacCormack and the Witches’ Wheel now on sale at: