The Solitary Path
This image was taken a while back during the time when I was doing my soul-searching. I wasn’t really sure what I really wanted in my life then and instead of thinking about it, I decided to really see and explore the world around me. I was alone most of the time during these soul-searching journeys with my trusty camera as my only companion. Photography was a result of the creativity I talked about in this post, it came to me from solitude. I love being in the zone when trying to find beautiful things to photograph, it takes the thinking out of the head and that is like meditation to me. It is beautiful when you are not chatting ceaselessly in your thoughts when exploring because then you can sense the world for what it really is. At this tribal bridge, I am alone and not really alone, all these lifeforms surrounds me and keeps me company. It is just so easy to miss them when you living in your head—which is most of the time. The challenge then is to turn the ratio around and sense life all around us every moment and embrace it, for these are the things of love, joy and existence.
It is said that there is only one type of fear in the world, the rest are just the many manifestations of that same fear—the fear of losing one self as if in death. That is why being alone is difficult, you lose the others and without the others to recognize your existence—you start to lose yourself. When you are all alone in the world, it becomes frightening. Dreams die, goals cease and the accumulation of wealth and fame becomes futile; everything you stand for loses its meaning. Why would anyone sane want something like that—to be alone and devoid of meaning? It is because it is in our nature to be alone: we came into this life alone and we will leave this life alone. The faster one can be comfortable being with oneself, the faster one can learn to co-exist with others, enjoy the adventure of life and end suffering.
“One can be instructed in society, one is inspired only in solitude.”
This realization of one being truly alone in the world is a difficult but hard truth. There was a time when I didn’t believe in that. There is a reason most of us clinched onto the external world and allow things on the outside to define us. All it takes is to look at the time when we were babies. You see, when a child is born, he or she is really so fragile and if the child doesn’t have any loved ones to depend on, he or she might have difficulty in sustaining life. Babies have no idea how to function in this unfamiliar world, they are hungry and all they can do is to cry. They need a pair of loving hands to feed them milk as they are not even aware of their own little hands, much less know how to hold a bottle themselves. This dependence on the outside forces start in the beginning of our lives and from thereon we have forgotten to turn back and look inside ourselves. Naturally as we began to derive our identity from the outside, we will start to create our boundaries based on the things we see or believe, we start to compare ourselves with others and through those comparison—desires arise.
Desires for things and situation is the root of suffering. It is a simple equation. You long for something and the mind always question for fairness, why is it that someone has this and that and I do not have? It isn’t fair. If I do this and that like the other person, I should have the same outcome. Ironically, life doesn’t happen this way. You might be able to get close with a lot of willpower to emulate the success of another but with it comes all the pain and suffering you didn’t ask for. There are sacrifices that one has to lose in order to gain something that the collective consciousness made you believe you wanted. Take the mind out of the equation and there is peace, non-desire, stillness and whatever happens is a blessing that comes from life itself. It might sound like doing nothing but it is not that. The difference is in whether the actions is inspired or just an activity to soothe the restlessness of a mind’s desire.
I will have to face my own death since nobody else can die in my place. Similarly, I can only live my own life and not let someone else live it for me.
What it all boils down to is this: for one to discover his or her true nature, one cannot find it in the external things and especially not through the voice of another because the treasure of one’s true nature can only be found from the source within. It is like asking others who are you? Who will know other than you? Since self-discovery is essential to inspiration and creativity, the only effective way is to be in solitude and spending the time alone to understand oneself; the self that is the only friend who is with you throughout your whole life and the one you wake up to everyday. You have just forgotten to check up on this friend once in a while because you are so busy in others. You have become an expert in others, in idols, in things, in toys, in fashion and the list goes on and on but you know nothing about yourself. You are afraid of being alone.
Being alone has been the best thing that had happened to me in a while. Being alone doesn’t mean being lonely, it is two different things. It is a choice that I find time for myself and I don’t need company to make me feel alive. I can be ecstatic just being with nature, with space and breathing in the air. I am not being lonely thus I enjoy the company of others too if they are there and I love people for who they are. The moments with my loved ones are especially precious to me. It is just that I am fine by myself and I know and acknowledge that being alone is going to be the final destination for everyone; I will have to face my own death since nobody else can die in my place. Similarly, I can only live my own life and not let someone else live it for me. I have only discovered this through the years of solitude that I went through, being away from it all for a while. It was difficult in the beginning: being away from career, job, friends, family, video games, things I believed in. It is difficult to drop all those things that made you who you are, especially dropping knowledge that you have acquired for a lifetime that doesn’t seemed to serve you anymore. After all the dust settles, visions became clear and for the first time there was silence, then followed by music from the birds, the wind and the trees swaying. I can start to hear my own heart and finally, hear the voice that inspires action. The fear is still there and it rear its head once in a while. (Fear is a topic for another time.) Despite the fear, the clarity of the guidance is simply amazing, it wasn’t this loud before. Now the practice is to drop the mind and let creativity dictate the actions in the moment. The key word is in the moment—now. I do what I feel like doing and I try to not let myself get in the way of allowing things to happen the way they want to happen. That flow paradoxically gives freedom and that freedom releases one from suffering. When there is no suffering, one is inspired to follow his or her nature. Suffering comes mainly from two things, your mind and your body. When one is suffering, inspiration is repressed and inspiration can only flow when one understands the nature of the mind and body. It is interesting that when one is healthy, one doesn’t think about health. Only when one is sick, one thinks and talk about being healthy. Similarly when the mind is healthy, you don’t think about the head, you only think about the head when there is headache. So if both mind and body are healthy, you transcend it and you start following your inspirations. Through the consequences of creativity, where creativity are simply actions produced by inspirations in the moment, something new and unique can be found and that will be the unique voice that you bring into life.
Sometimes it feels like there is safety in numbers but if you have been at it for a while, you will realized that it is just a waste of time not to follow your own voice and threading alone on your own path. How many times have you followed someone’s advice thinking that you will be happy and end up in a loop to where you started? The only results you got each time is that time is wasted—wasted on not living your life the way you want. It is not about the past and not about the future but right here in this moment, are you living in a way that makes you happy? Happy in a way that you allow you to be you, not being afraid that the world might misunderstand you or be against you. (Most of the time they don’t care unless you are in the way.) My suggestion is try to embrace solitude for a while and you will find out. You have already got used to talking to yourself in your head, now try this conversation somewhere else alone. See what insights might arise and you will be surprised at what you find on the solitary path.