I’m a conditioned athlete when it comes to solitude. Since 2010, not to mention since I was ten, I have been gearing up mentally, financially, and physically for long-distance, singlehanded sailing; where I would be solo and independent for 30 to 45 days at a time while crossing oceans or simply island hopping the Sea of Cortez for six months—that was the plan anyway and you already know how that went. Fast forward to today, where we are all being told to self-isolate, practice social distancing and being told to remain calm…
And I am thriving.
The solitude that I am referring to is not the standard definition of the word, being alone, going solo, or being quarantined; but having a mindset that time spent with only yourself and your thoughts is a great thing! It is something to be cherished and embraced. It is such a simple thing to achieve, yet damn hard to find these days: endless news cycles that focus on drama and conflict are addictive, but you need to ween yourself off it or you’ll develop self-imposed PTSD when this is all said and done.
I am not a ‘Prepper,’ but, inadvertently and understandably, I can see how I could be confused as one. A Prepper is trying to prepare for an unknown, future event (plagues, government collapse, war, zombies, et cetera); I was readying myself for a planned adventure. Now, all of that planning, training of a mind-set that enjoys solitude, being stoic when I can, accepting that I am human when I can’t, has evolved to where I am today: Trying to help those around me, mentally, in passing the time until these days are just a story we will recall like front-line troops back from the war.
These times will test us, and we will be victorious. I also hope it brings the world closer together when these days come to pass and we will all be Covid-19 veterans. I truly hope that will be remembered when made-up divisions are thrown at us by those who crave power, deflect blame and only want adulation.
So, the advice I would give is simple: Choose to Embrace Solitude. It is a companion who will always be with you, there for you and a safe place to recenter yourself. It is time to say hello.
A website that I really enjoy reading and fully recommend to everyone is Daily Stoic. One of their great articles should be read by all:
“The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control. Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself to the choices that are my own…” — Epictetus, Discourses, 2.5.4–5