Maya Angelou observed that “you only are free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place — no place at all.”
Solitude is something you refine and develop and create. And again, I think crucially, it has to do with refining our ethical intelligence. It has to do with refining our capacity to see where our impulses are coming from, to what extent those impulses are just driven by conditioning and habit and fear, and to what extent we can somehow open up a nonreactive space within us from which we can respond to the world — respond to our own needs, too, but in a way that’s not driven by familiar habit patterns, which are often rooted in attachment and fear and other things. So solitude, the practice of solitude, is the practice of creating an inward autonomy within ourselves, an inward freedom from the power of these overwhelming thoughts and emotions.
When someone loves you they like it when you write about them because writing is the product of a pure and focused attention. There’s no proof of love more real than sustained attention.
If I’m angry all the time & isolated thinking my ideas are exceptional or my pain is exceptional, I’m not seeing how our struggles are very much unexceptional which is an incredibly liberating realization. We’re in this together. There are so many people who are already doing this that we can learn from. We can share ideas as partners rather than seek to preach to someone in a top-down dynamic where we consider ourselves the “more aware ones”. We can collaborate & explore new ways of being or practice reconnecting to innate collectivist old ways of being with many different people. The question is are we doing what we can do on our end to create the best possibility of us finding such equitable, reciprocal relationships?
— how wonderful to be who I am, made out of earth and water, my own thoughts, my own fingerprints—all that glorious, temporary stuff.
∆ Mary Oliver, from "On Meditating, Sort Of," in Blue Horses
Our task is not to return to an idealized past, or to fetishize and appropriate the cultures of Indigenous peoples. Rather it is to determine which aspects of the current dominant society bring us into conflict with the rest of the natural world, to identify the historical junctures out of which these characteristics arose, and to imagine alternative paths society could take.