The dictionary meaning of the word isolate is to cause (a person or place) to be or remain alone or apart from others. And so isolation is the process or fact of isolating or being isolated.
The literal meaning of another word – solitude – too is the state or situation of being alone.
So both isolation and solitude mean being alone. In fact another meaning of isolation could also be to keep or stay in solitude. However, it’s the circumstances leading to this state of being alone is what differentiates these two words from one another.
While both mean being alone this perhaps is the only similarity that the two words have. Solitude is usually voluntary, and may even be on many people’s active wish list. Isolation, on the other hand, is usually thrust on us and rarely evokes pleasant images of being by one self.
But in these paradoxical times, on the one hand we are confined to our homes, but on the other we can look virtually into a loved one’s home across the seven seas!! Peculiar times indeed. Strangely, the word social which necessarily implies being with people, is today suffixed with the word distancing. Perhaps just a few weeks ago the phrase social distancing may have raised serious doubts about one’s competence at language usage but today we’ve rather quickly added it to our ever evolving vocabulary. It’s also a real life reminder of the oft used phrase – so near and yet so far….
And so here’s a thought ….. what if we were to recalibrate the meaning of isolation? Just in our minds? Just for now? What if we were to – albeit temporarily – swap meaning and connotation of isolation with solitude?
The minute you do that you will feel differently about being by yourself. You might almost feel a sense of calm descend on you and a sense of slowing down, settling down and living in this moment of just being ….with yourself.
Discovering yourself, understanding yourself, perhaps even reinventing yourself.
A little play of words, a minor adjustment, and magically we’d be basking in the luxury of solitude. That enviable state of being that professionals dream of, that poets write about, and the ultimate state of connection with self that philosophers thrive on. So make the most of the solitude …that is truly God sent in more ways than one.
The key to changing self-isolation to solitude is two-fold – discovery of self and appreciation of what one is blessed with.
Imagine for a moment, being expected to self isolate to save your life, but having no real home to be in.
Imagine having a bucket list of things to do – as and when you have time – and never ever finding the time to tick those boxes.
Imagine craving the luxury of solitude but there being no possibility of it in your busy busy life.
Imagine the creativity that could emanate from your thought processes as you sit back now and let your thoughts flow.
This might be a good time to be grateful for what we have and so as we look for wondrous solitude in imposed isolation, as we transform this period of isolation into the luxury of solitude let’s take this as Nature’s way of giving us time to …
…replenish, rejuvenate and recharge…
– As we undergo this transformation and undertake to move from isolation to solitude so will Mother Nature simultaneously…
…replenish, rejuvenate and recharge…
– As She takes a break from her noisy routine of the past several decades and enjoys the much needed silence all around.
– As we allow her to wallow in the myriad colours of spring, that we give her time to enjoy, by stepping aside for a while.
– As She catches her breath and beholds us again with love in her eyes.
– As She gets ready to welcome us once again, her beloved children, in her bountiful arms, forgiving us for our recalcitrant ways.
– As She generously gives us another chance to live.
Let’s give Mother Nature time to repair and heal as we make the most of the luxury of this unexpected solitude.
So remember folks…
Self-isolation = Solitude = Second chance at life.