People often ask me, “don’t you sometimes feel lonely on a long journey like this when you are always on your own?”
Sometimes I get astonished by this question as loneliness has never occurred to me on the road. When I am out on the road I am always absorbed by something—the landscape, reflections of my past, what I think about the world, or merely enjoying the sheer happiness of being alone.
I am alone, not lonely. In aloneness, I can have a word with myself. I can contemplate and let my positive and negative sides have a conversation with each other. I just have to be quiet and not interrupt. I am merely a listener to this dialogue. The quieter and more peaceful I am, the clearer I can hear to myself.
Solitude is the quality of being alone without feeling miserable.
In solitude, we reflect. In solitude, we know what is right and wrong. We can read all the books in the world and yet not take anything from them if we don’t take a moment to stop and think what has actually been said. Knowledge comes from outside, but the deep learning occurs within ourselves. Learning is a solitary action and can only happen when we are alone at that particular moment, however brief it may be.
Solitude is the best teacher we can ask for!
Yet, in modern times, solitude or being alone is not encouraged by our society. We are hooked to the outer world all the time, bombarded with information coming from social media, internet and TV— all the information that we don’t even need or have asked for. We get very little time to ourselves, much less be ourselves.
By not having the ability to listen to ourselves, how are we going to be ourselves? As a result, we find ourselves on a path where we all are competing against each other for no apparent reason. All we know is that something is not right in our lives, but we don’t know what. We are just going through the motions of life, unhappy and unfulfilled. We are not able to see any alternatives or take actions to change the course of our life.
It is because we have stopped spending time with ourselves. We have forgotten that the fountain of happiness is within ourselves. We don’t have to go to anyone to seek their advice on what to do in our life. There is a whole world out there—the mighty valleys carved by glaciers, majestic white mountains touching the sky, and endless rivers, all waiting to be seen by us—why limit our imagination to boxes? Endless opportunities await us, why must we listen to others and become rigid or someone else?
Be yourself, but don’t lose connection with the world. Be in harmony with the planet. Go out and marvel at the wonders of nature, and take ownership of your environment. Be a believer that you can change yourself and the world.
But, first, be alone, and be quiet! Once you discover the true meaning of freedom in your solitude, you will be free!
(All the pictures shot in the Canadian Rockies during the past few weeks!)