The discipline of solitude


*7:30 am. Alarm clock rings*

Cool, Ayo is still sleeping.
Why am I so tired!
Oh yeah, we went to bed late again.
Will we ever learn?
Sure. Tonight we’ll go to bed early.

*Snooze alarm clock*
*Check email on phone.*

Sheesh, that lawyer guy wants to bill us for that email he sent us.
Free day at the zoo. Okay.
Chinese teacher wants a testimonial. Flag to follow up later.
Hey, why didn’t Anna respond to my email?

*Ayo thumps. Giggles and thumps.*

He’s awake. I should feed him.

*Feed him. Giggle with him. Watch him stare at the map and giggle at the rainbow curtains.*

Doesn’t it get old to gaze at those same things every day?

*Text message jingle. Text message jingle. Text message jingle.*

It must be R, she always writes me long smses.

*Check phone. Try to respond with one hand and Ayo grabbing the pretty blue thing that lights up*

« Ayo, ce n’est pas un jouet. Mon ange, attends deux secondes. Rhoo Ayo, t’es content ? Eh ben voilà, t’as envoyé le message ajeyoufw à ma copine. Bravo. »**

*Change Ayo’s diaper and clothes. Wake papa up with coos, shrieks and giggles. Bring him downstairs to play on a blanket. Give him a toy. Turn Nespresso machine on. Turn laptop on. Play with Ayo until he fusses at 8:31am. Put him to bed for his first nap of the day.*

*Make espresso. Consider taking a photo. Decide I have too many photos of my espressos. Sip espresso, surf the net. www…autocomplete… facebook.com*

Whaaaat? My French friend living in Italy is finally pregnant, hooray! Wait, that’s a three month ultrasound. Why didn’t she tell me earlier? I’ve been thinking about her trying to get pregnant forever.

*Look up “Tenerezza”, her friend’s comment in dictionary. www….autocomplete… wordreference.com..select Italian-> English.*

“Tenerezza” means tenderness, softness, endearment. Uh huh, okay. Interesting word. I’ll try to use that one day. *Back to Facebook*. Oh, more ‘likes’ on my photo. Cool, people like me! Nevermind… none on my new album. What? I want to leave Facebook forever. Which reminds me..why didn’t  Sara respond to my really funny comment on her photo?

*Look up Sara’s page to see if she was on Facebook since I commented*

Whaaaat? She was totally on FB and never responded to me. How rude!

STOP.

I am growing really weary of starting my precious mornings at the mercy of whatever happened in my inbox or to social media during my sleep. It’s the real downside of living in an always connected world. The same dance that happened above, happens in some form during all sorts of “in betweens”: when I’m stopped at a red light, when I am waiting in line at a coffee shop and yes, I’ll admit it, sometimes when I am on the toilet. I jam pack those moments with noise. Ugh.

It’s not that I resent being connected. It’s just that I resent the prestigious place that I have given connectivity: first thing in the morning and during those precious “in betweens”. The lure of constant interconnectivity strips away my creativity (like this one blog post brilliantly illustrates). It robs me of quality time with my boys. And, perhaps worst of all, the noise is the antithesis of the intentionality I so long to live out in every aspect of my life.

To be fair, even the more basic of tasks around the home can take my day hostage too. I have come to realize that I could quite easily fill each and every day dealing with piles of laundry, meal planning, running errands or cleaning our home. That’s just part and parcel of being a mother. However, on days like those, I feel unfulfilled to the core and absolutely void of perspective. On days like those, caring for my son and my husband feels so forced and so exhausting. Those days feel like such a toil. I’m lonely. I’m homesick. My mind is dull. My body is weak. My soul thirsts for more.

What a difference it makes to those days when I choose to recenter my soul on the eternal first thing in the morning in solitude. In fact, when I choose the discipline of inner solitude, it sets the tone for a meaningful and a remarkably peaceful day. I use the words “discipline of inner solitude” because even as a mother to one, I no longer have the luxury of seeking out inner solitude spontaneously or on a whim. I have to quiet my urge to be entertained or even to mop the floors when I have the opportunity and choose inner silence instead. And it will only get harder to carve out this time.

On good days like today, I chose solitude during Ayo’s first nap and it was wonderful. Out of that life-giving place comes purpose and rejuvenation. When my soul is fed, I no longer feel like I have to give out of a place of emptiness but out of the richness I have received. It is only then that I can love my husband out of true joy of the heart. It is only then that I can sing to Ayo out of the freedom of my soul, talk to him about who he is: a chosen and beloved son of God. Only then can I truly enter into relationships meaningfully.

Recently, someone told me that there is a committee that creates those names that we call each generation. This committee is considered calling Ayo’s generation, along with all those who were born around 2004 and onwards, the “Always On” Generation because they will never have known a disconnected world. Knowing the struggle that always being connected is for myself in an already very busy life, the characteristics of this “AO Generation” do worry me somewhat for my son. With this in mind, valuing and modeling the good old-fashioned discipline of solitude to Ayo has never felt more important.


“Settle yourself in solitude and you will come upon Him in yourself.”
-Teresa of Ávila

 

**”Hold on, Ayo, this is not a toy. Wait two seconds, my angel. Sheesh, Ayo, are you happy now? Thanks a lot, you just sent a message with ajeyoufw to my friend. Way to go.”

8 thoughts on “The discipline of solitude

  1. Amazing post TCKMum, thank you 🙂
    Now you know why I took the decision to switch from my blackberry to a very simple cellphone without internet connection …There were also professionnal reasons though – I did not want to be constantly connected to my private life while I was at work – though I must admit that even without a smartphone, one gets connected very easily, so that one did not work out as well as I thought 🙂

    And sometimes, I think that with a smartphone in hand, many things would be much easier (having a map on the phone, a directory, a dictionnary and all these useful apps) !

    1. Yeah, like I said, I don’t resent it. Thanks to technology, I can find the nearest mechanic, the cheapest place to fill my car or look up the address of the party I am going to. But I want to be at a place where I control it, instead of it controlling me. Heeey, speaking of controlling technology, what’s happening with your blog? I’m eager for an update! 😉

  2. Good post ! thanks for the reminder that moments of Solitude are important and the day is really better !
    The only good thing about my job is that I don’t have to be on internet while I’m at my house and I don’t even want to^^!

  3. Hey lovely lady…this post reached to the depths of my soul and RESONATED!!!! Totally totally feel the same way towards the prestige I have given my connectedness…and am wary, so wary, of what life will look like for my future bebe! What do you think will be the implications spiritually/emotionally/etc for the ‘Always On’ generation?
    In any case, you’ve inspired me to keep being still before the Lord, to keep learning the art of stopping, listening, and just BEING…not only for the sake of my health and thriving relationship with God/creation/those around me, but also as a model for bebe-to-be!
    Lots and lots of love.

    1. While I don’t know all the spiritual and emotional implications connectedness and instant gratification will have on our children, I know it will only be harder to think, meditate, write, be still. Yet, what a gift to know how to access both technology (which I love and get a high from) and the place of intentionally cutting it off to quiet ourselves before the Father. Something makes me think this ability is learned very early on. xx

  4. Such an interesting topic and one I think of often. I am so intentional about my kids remaining as unplugged as possible for as long as possible- less good about modeling that behavior for them. Thanks for the reminder!

    1. Diana, another issue that is related to this one and equally as important in TM and my heart is the one of intentionally slowing down the pace of life to enjoy it so much more. We’ve been talking about that one a lot and what that would mean for our life and personalities. I think both are related because both technology and the frantic nature of our days mask a lot of life.

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