"At the heart of solitude lies a paradox: look long and hard enough at yourself in isolation and suddenly you will see the rest of humanity staring back."
Buddhist writer and scholar Stephen Batchelor offered the above reflection in a recent conversation with On Being host Krista Tippett. The episode is titled Finding Ease in Aloneness, and it centers on how the present situation is forcing us all to work out the difference between isolation and loneliness or solitude.
Hailed as a "beautiful literary collage", The Art of Solitude is Batchelor's new book, and it teaches how to approach solitude as a graceful and life-giving practice. Among the wealth of wisdom shared in The Art of Solitude's pages, Batchelor defines the concept of being alone with yourself as... "Just being in your own company, and not only being OK with that, but also, recognizing that this is the source — this place of just settling is the place you find yourself, for example, if you’re a poet or a painter — that’s where your ideas begin. That’s where your imagination, your creativity, all start to, as it were, be germinated and then find form."
A host of possibilities open up when we look at this chapter of self isolation as an art form to practice and sculpt, rather than as a sentence to serve out. Along the water here in Palm Beach there are countless cues to be taken from the ocean. Despite its still vacant shores, the surf swirls, the sea beams back blue and the show truly does go on. That nuance makes its imprint, reminding us to keep practicing our art. As we head into summertime, here's some inspiration for doing so?
"It's always been in between the things that I thought I was doing that the real work is happening."
Since its broadcast debut on PBS in 2001, over 100 artists have been featured in ART21's flagship series. Each episode features a different artist and unpacks the inspiration, vision, and techniques behind their processes. What a delight to watch William Kentridge in the moment, at play in his studio in this recent episode. The uncontrived integrity of his work is a timely reminder of the impact of making space for wonder and embracing gradualness as a practice.
"Be someone you've never been."
IN-Q is an award-winning poet, and multi-platinum songwriter. His work leaps from the page and is best sampled through his own spoken word. Like many artists, he writes to entertain, inspire, and challenge his audiences to look deeper into the human experience and ask questions about themselves, their environment, and the world at large. Here's a clip of IN-Q performing his Poem About Saying Yes... IN-Q (also known as Adam Schmalholz) is a National Poetry Slam champion and the first spoken word artist to perform with Cirque Du Soleil, recently he sat down for this timely conversation with Elena Brower on her Practice You podcast. In their chat the artist reads from his new book of poetry entitled, INQUIRE WITHIN. Listening to IN-Q read his verse (which he does in this conversation) is transformative to say the least. Stream IN-Q's Practice You conversation here.
"Someday, if she finds herself in isolation and I am not there, she will have her own songs and some courage based in these walks."
Megan Craig is an associate professor of philosophy and art at the State University of New York, Stony Brook.The Courage to Be Alone was published earlier this month in the New York Times, and its an essay that merits endless sharing as (together) we continue to learn to be alone...
"My youngest daughter has told me that Annabelle, her baby doll, might have the coronavirus. We talk about it as we take a daily walk up the road. She’s not sure yet whether it is diabetes or the virus. Annabelle’s symptoms vary, but she has not left the small cradle by the side of my daughter’s bed in days. I have been told I can..."