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  • Writer's pictureFran Braga Meininger

Time Alone Can Be Delicious


Einstein said “I live in that solitude which is painful in youth but delicious in the years of maturity.”


I live there too, these days. It’s new to me, brought on by shifting circumstances and changing times. Over the past few years, I struggled through a period of being increasingly disappointed in others and desperately longing for connection, passion and fulfillment.


When I finally realized the only way to find that for which I longed was to look to myself, everything started to shift. It was not easy, especially after living my entire adult life as an extravert who thrived on the energy and attention of others. But change is sometime essential, especially when it arrives as a hard lesson discovered through tears and frustration.


But suddenly, one morning hiking alone because there was no one around to join me, again, I realized how much I enjoyed the solitude. So, I made it a habit and now regularly head off alone to explore the hills and the recesses of my own mind, wonderfully accessible within the silence. I now enjoy being alone to think, observe, feel and just be with myself.


The more time I spend alone with my thoughts the more I find answers to the questions and dilemmas that challenge me in my new era of learning to find purpose beyond my career, in a body that is changing in so many unforeseen ways, and relating to relationships that are different than expected. I have begun to understand I am the one person in my life who is constant, on whom I can count and with whom I can find contentment.


It wasn’t really a conscious shift, more of a series of “ah ha” moments that occurred after spending more and more time pursuing what interested me whether or not there was someone else with whom to enjoy it. I have grown into the mature years that Einstein was referring to and it is quite wonderful.


So, what changed? How am I now more fulfilled and happier to be alone instead of struggling with an unrelenting need for companionship? It seems to come down to a few simple realizations.


It Starts with Doing What You Love – Alone

I focus on what I like to do, what brings me joy, not on the relationship to the person with whom I share it. I love to hike. But, for years, I would only go when I had a partner, which meant I missed out when others were busy or would cancel last minute. I started heading out alone instead of cancelling on myself and I found I enjoyed it even more. I go where I please, at my own pace and I am free to pause in reflection, which brings a deeper satisfaction to my outings. They are still a strenuous workout but now I have the added benefit of spending time in my own mind without distraction. I now hike alone nearly every morning.


You Can Really Get to Know Yourself in the Silence

Exploring my own thoughts, listening intently to the voice that serves as my guide through my feelings and emotions brought rewarding insights. But I needed to be quiet to hear it. So, in addition to spending time alone hiking and biking, I’ve started doing other creative endeavors that allow my mind to wander. I bought a starter kit of acrylic paints and have enjoyed discovering not only my creativity but the ideas that reveal themselves while my mind is open and unencumbered. I also write every morning, releasing to paper whatever is on my mind as I awaken to a new day. I have come to understand myself, my desires and my boundaries much more clearly because of it.


When You Are with Others, Go Deep

I still enjoy good company and loving relationships with those in my life. But I find I have less tolerance these days for idle chit chat. Instead I seek intimate conversation, honest sharing of ideas and emotions that cut through what’s happening and get to how we feel about what’s happening. It’s a subtle but important distinction.


Life Becomes More About Achieving Balance

I’m not seeking a monastic life, rather one of balance, with time devoted to self and the company of loved ones, and a well-chosen group of friends and acquaintances who contribute to my well-being and happiness. When I feel the need for companionship, and none of my friends are available, I join a meetup group to go hiking or participate in a writing group. It’s amazing how easily a stranger can become a friend given the right circumstance.


The world can be a chaotic place sometimes and in order to comfortably settle into solitude, we need to seek out silence and inspiration. Take a chance. Give it a try. Choose something you enjoy and do it alone a few times, just to see how it feels. Spend some time with yourself, listen to your inner voice and really hear what it has to say. You might find as I did, and as Einstein did, that it’s delicious.



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9 Comments


keayoung91
Feb 07, 2022

Thank you for another wonderful essay.

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Fran Braga Meininger
Fran Braga Meininger
Feb 07, 2022
Replying to

Hello Young, It's lovely to hear from your again. Thank you for your kind words. Fran

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barbaraadavey
Feb 06, 2022

What an amazing essay! As an aging Baby Boomer, I can truly relate to the various challenges, emotions, and changes you so poignantly described. I, too, have begun to be"laser-focused" on those activities that bring me joy, and then pursue them -- alone. At this stage in life's journey, I am discovering more satisfaction in traveling deep, not wide. Thank you for providing a North Star and a perfect itinerary.

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barbaraadavey
Feb 07, 2022
Replying to

I would have to agree, Kindred Spirit!

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Rita
Rita
Feb 06, 2022

I so connect with the emotions, the challenges you are facing. Though I had a”ways been an introvert I am realizing how much I need the connection of people, but as you said, I want deep connection. I cant take precious time and waste it. All people are important but few are deep. Thank you for your article. I’ll read it over and over as a reminder. Rita

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Fran Braga Meininger
Fran Braga Meininger
Feb 07, 2022
Replying to

Rita, it's so encouraging to have someone understand and connect when they read my words. It somehow confirms for me I'm on the right path, and not there alone. Thank you for your generous comment.

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Unknown member
Feb 06, 2022

I've been reading your blog for the past year, since I sat for a while with the writers' group at Jack London Lodge at their first big public gathering. I would like to join the group in a bit as I ramp up my retirement writing. This current blog is eerily deja vue; you have been listening in my mind for the past many many months as I've taken the time to reexamine my life and self after losing my home in 2020 and moving on to a new life, as it were. Thank you for sharing; I couldn't agree more with your insights and conclusions. It is heartening to meet fellow travelers in this amazing journey of life.

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Fran Braga Meininger
Fran Braga Meininger
Feb 07, 2022
Replying to

Thank you, Jay, for your kind words. I remember meeting you last year. I'm so pleased to know my words resonate with you. You're so right, meeting others walking along this same path is comforting. All my best. Fran

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