In our search for wisdom, we need to recognize the value of solitude. In fact, one of the things that valuing principles, evaluating experience, and inviting inspiration all have in common is that they are enhanced by times of solitude. It is often in quiet, uninterrupted times alone that we can most effectively increase our connection to timeless truths, awareness, and inspiration.
In today’s fast-paced world, it’s a challenge to take time to stop and think deeply about our lives. But as Plato once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” That’s a strong statement! But think about it: When we’re operating out of inaccurate or incomplete paradigms, running around doing things that are not aligned or high leverage, and making the same mistakes again and again—how much satisfaction are we going to get out of life? How balanced and peaceful are we going to feel?
In the Middle East, Bedouin families often send their children out with their herds for extended periods of time as part of their basic education. They consider quiet times of solitude and meditation to be critical to a child’s development. Certainly, we don’t want to get caught in the trap of “analysis paralysis,” spending so much time in introspection that we never get anything done. But, for the most part in our society, we’re in far more danger of never spending any truly introspective time at all.
One of the things I’ve really appreciated about Roger over the years is the way he has provided personal retreat time for me—time when I could just get away from everything and reconnect with myself. About once a year, he’s arranged to be at home with the children for a few days so I could be alone. I think this time has been important for him as well as for me. It’s given him the opportunity to interact with the children and build relationships, and in the earlier days of our marriage, it gave him a better perspective of the challenges I faced as a full-time homemaker and parent.
As philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal observed: “All of our ills stem from our inability to sit quietly in a room.” When we do take time to mediate and ponder over our lives, we open the door to enriched perspective and wisdom.