I don’t usually have to think hard in order to write these journal entries to you. I go about my daily life and ideas drop into my consciousness. I jot down the most important nugget that feels like wisdom (to me) and then craft it into something meaningful and understandable when I’m back in front of the computer. Sometimes it’s 5 minutes, other times it’s 30. I don’t mean this to sound dismissive or arrogant, it’s just the simplicity and ease of my creative process and how ideas seem to interact with me in the world.
So, I’m just back from a 2-week Peruvian adventure and my newsletter deadline is fast approaching. The Wednesday before the Friday launch. No ideas have bounced in. Strange. I try and think of something leadership-worthy and nada. I pick up a few of my favorite books for inspiration, trusting that the idea will plop down into my head as it always does, and … silence. Now I worry because I’m expecting an email from my program manager reminding me of the deadline. I hate to force my writing. I think hard – even for an ordinary topic – and nothing. The well is dry. But, why?
Why? Once I asked that question, the wisdom dropped into my awareness like clockwork. For the past few weeks, I have dropped everything in my routine. My meditation, my journaling, my reading, my exercise – essentially, my solitude practices. I got sucked into the elation of our exotic travels and the fun of bouncing from tour to trek to restaurant to laughter with friends. I ignored the daily practices that keep me ticking on point. Where I went wrong was thinking that “holiday “ is an equal replacement for solitude. I assumed the joy of travel and being away from the everyday was the ritual.
With intentional solitude, the world concedes. It’s a magic little thing that happens. It’s like time and space decide to respect your commitment to take a few minutes to just be and prolong their impatience for a while longer. The more I learn about solitude, the more I see the purity of its essence and the power and healing it contains. It’s like taking a shower or cleaning out a closet to make room for what’s to come. It nourishes from the inside-out. It’s where creativity and calm and connection live.
So, lesson learned. My relationship with creativity (for me = writing) lives in solitude and ritual. My ideas love their host (aka me) to be fully present and ready to receive. They apparently don’t love an overly booked calendar (albeit joyful one) with no room to just be so they can pop in and say hello. Definitely an important lesson learned.
PS. For those who cringe when you read the word solitude, don’t panic. Solitude is not loneliness. Solitude is not introversion. Solitude is not isolation. Solitude is simply an intentional few (or many) moments each day that allow you to reset and energize with what fills you most.
Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes… including you.
FROM THEORY TO ACTION
Take a look at your calendar and see what’s coming up that might disrupt your “normal” routine. Whether a holiday or work trip, spend some time thinking of solitude moments or rituals that can offer you extra fuel amidst the disruption. Whether a gratitude list before bed or packing a pair of sneakers to take a long walk after meetings, these moments of connection with self are where creativity and fulfillment reside. We’re all busy. But living for busy-ness is probably the least inspiring life we can lead. Steal some moments for yourself and watch how busy-ness concedes.