The Magic Of Solitary Pursuits

Alone In A Cafe

I am a people’s person. No, really, I am. But it just also happens that as much as I love people, I also happen to love being alone just as much. This may sound like the beginning of another esoteric discussion on the differences between loneliness and solitude, but I assure you that it is not, as these differences have been amply documented by many others much more qualified to do so. Suffice it to say that my desire to be alone is directly related to the state of mind that comes with contemplation and creativity. Put another way, it is directly related to the wonderful byproduct that results from moments of solitude and detachment from the “noise” of everyday life.

The wonderful thing is that being alone doesn’t necessarily mean to be distanced from other people. I’m talking about the state of being “mentally” alone, of being in the zone, or something akin to an out-of-body experience. The phenomena is not necessarily physical, but mental. It is being in that moment when your reality is only yours, whether you are walking in a crowded city with your camera in hand, writing your next great novel in a crowded library, or pondering your next direction in life. It leads to a place where creativity, meaning, and purpose live in seclusion until we all dare to open the door and free them from that dark place. A state of mental (and sometimes physical) blitz that is as precious as it is short. Eventually, what the world will see of us is nothing but the result of what happens in those precious moments of solitude.

Creativity And Location

The locations at which people unleash their inner creativity are as diverse as the different forms of art.
The locations at which people unleash their inner creativity are as diverse as the different forms of art.

Don’t ask me why, but lately I’ve been pondering how much our environment affects our creativity.  After all, painters gravitate to the south of France in search of the perfect light, creative writing courses travel to Paris in search of inspiration, and photographers don’t seem to be able to stop talking about the lonely pursuit that their craft demands.  Remember Georgia O’Keeffe?  Her artistic peak came about during the period in her life when she made the wide, open spaces of the New Mexico dessert her home.  And how about the irrepressible Salvador Dalí and his incredible imagination that traced its roots to the small Spanish towns of his youth, Figueres and Cadaqués.  And famous writers are all over the place, but invariably alone when practicing their craft.  So what am I to conclude from all this?  Perhaps that for solo creatives, solitude during the creative process seems to be a lot more important than any particular location.  After all, the proverbial creative block doesn’t seem to care much about place.  It is the simple act of “disconnecting” from the everyday that seems to be at the root of our creativity.  What is must give way to what’s possible in our consciousness.  And if getting there takes us to a faraway land, or just as far as the kitchen table, so be it.  Our eyes and our hearts will tell us when we’ve arrived there, wherever there happens to be.