The Need for Solitude

Do you know about the Ontario Library Associations Evergreen List?  Each year the OLA nominates a number of books in Canadian fiction and non-fiction in an effort to encourage people to explore Canadian literature and discover a variety of talented Canadian authors.

One book from the 2018 list that I particularly enjoyed is Solitude. A Singular Life in a Crowded World by Michael Harris. I have always known that the secret to healthy aging is community, so was rather intrigued to discover this book on the importance of solitude. However, true solitude is not about being anti-social. According to Harris, we human beings need to have alone time in order to thrive. And if we can spend that time in nature, away from the hustle and bustle of every day urban life, so much the better! Solitude, he says, has many uses. Time alone can help us to birth new ideas and a deeper understanding of the self.

And get this! Solitude can lead to closeness with others. Harris refers to the work of Eric Klinenberg, Going Solo. Klinenberg asserts “that our ability to be happily alone is actually a sign of strong social ties, not a lack thereof. He notes, for example, that the countries with the highest rates of solo living — Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark — are all countries famed for their communal support.” (quoted in Harris, p. 39)

It would seem that we all need to find the balance between being with others and being alone in order to live a happy life. Finding that balance is another important key to healthy living and healthy aging. It is a worthy goal to which to aspire in this still very New Year.



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