The incubator of the spirit
“The great omission in American life is solitude; not loneliness, for this is an alienation that thrives most in the midst of crowds, but that zone of time and space, free from the outside pressures, which is the incubator of the spirit.”
— Marya Mannes
I relish solitude, but loneliness is one of the most painful emotions I know of. It’s tricky at times to figure out where the difference lies, but I think loneliness comes over us when we feel as if no one understands, knows or cares about what we are experiencing. When I maintain ties to people I love– which takes mutual time and effort– I can experience endless hours of solitude and love every minute.
Perhaps solitude is increasingly omitted from American life partly because most of us do fear loneliness. But ironically, as Mannes points out, loneliness is never more troublesome than when we feel it in the midst of a crowd.
I believe that part of the allure of the admittedly risky profusion of online social networking lies in the ability to connect to others with whom we share common thoughts, impressions and emotions. While online contact can never take the place of face-to-face interaction, it does allow us to gather into “tribes” of other humans who have similar interests, burdens, challenges or goals. This sharing adds a wonderful dimension to life for many of us who connect through words and photos.
Still, it’s important to leave “that zone of time and space” apart from the noise of life. Many of us are fortunate to have spouses, friends or family members who understand and honor our need for solitude. With such companions, or alone, I hope you will find some time and space today for your spirit to be nourished by quiet.