Reflections on Time Alone
"Being in solitary confinement is really just being thrown upon yourself.... it's like being thrown in the ocean. You have to learn how to swim. You have to learn how to deal with yourself."
This quote is from an article I came across by Keith LaMar in Mother Jones describing his experience of living the past 27 years in solitary confinement. After all this time, he has become a contemplative; spending his days reading, listening to music, painting, working out, doing yoga and meditating with the goal of going deeper into himself.
It sounds uncomfortably relentless and far from our social conditioning, but he assures us we are more equipped than we realize. As the social isolating continues, the early days of news and fear and funny memes is giving way to "what now?". There is boredom; bad habits. Tempers are flaring, patience is thinning and worry is rising. We are learning to swim in the ocean of our interior, learning to deal with our own self.
This is not an easy task at first because the mainstream trains us to look outward in distraction. This inward turning requires different skills. It is a practice best approached with curiosity and a sense of discovery. LaMar has been at it a long time and he has found a power different than the type that landed him in prison so long ago - the power of living inside.
In this time of sheltering in place we have an opportunity to get in touch with ourselves and to bring forth that which is already within. We can learn to live from the inside out.