It was loneliness. At first. It evolved into a state of aloneness, of solitude, from which I have sourced vitalizing benefits that have contributed, not only to steadying my life, but also to securing an immense sense of gratification and self-worth.
I broached loneliness in Reflection: All is forgiven Despite Breach of Trust and in blog post, Early Schooling was Fraught with Loneliness and Drudgery. I was lonely, you will note, because I missed my mum, dad and brother. Furthermore, the situation I was in was imposed on me. I did not ask for it. The situation particularly grated on my boyish sensibility knowing that all my school mates were at their respective homes/villages/islands enjoying the school break. Except me. To make matters worse, brother Simione was hospitalized at Yaro Health Centre, Nakasaleka, and I wouldn’t be seeing him for sometime. This period in my life was 1953-1954. I was 7-8 years of age.
The feeling of loneliness did not arise from being physically alone. I was, during the school break, staying with my aunt and uncle in Naqara Village and with two first cousins, younger than me. As I was the only male of the younger generation in the household, I ended up with a lot more outside chores than my two female cousins, e.g. food gardening chores and firewood and sea-water collection, etc.
I reluctantly attended to these chores. At first. But I soon discovered how to fill in my time and raise my spirit by engaging in fishing at the river nearby. I would sit on a firm overhanging branch over the mangroves and drop my fishing line which was rolled up in a rough piece of stick. There was no other soul nearby. It was then when I realized that you could catch a mangrove crab with your fishing line. There, I would sit for hours, taking in the peace and quiet of the surroundings as much as I could; listening and relating to nature. In retrospect, I was not consciously directing my mind and ears to nature. Perhaps, sub-consciously. In a situation like that, nature overwhelms, as if by imposition; and you just allow yourself to drift along where nature takes you.
These daily chores soon became popular diversions I looked forward to. I did so because of the opportunity to reflect, to dream and to be alone whilst fishing. In all intents and purposes, my loneliness was transforming itself to opportunities for aloneness – for solitude, that is impossible to attain otherwise. There was no conscious attempt on my part to bring about such transformation. The situation naturally gave rise to it.
Being alone, writes Mateo Sol (The Virtues of Solitude – Aloneness), creates ‘All in Oneness’ situation – an opportunity to: embrace nature and your maker; feel free to be yourself and not be concerned about others’ judgments of you; practice introspection and discover your true nature; be self-sufficient with your own company; deepen your virtues and appreciate your own interaction with your surroundings; enhance self-growth and inner search for peace and meaning; and sharpen your artistic appreciation, self-worth and creativity. And more.
I was too young to know all these. However, since I was obviously basking in my aloneness, there would have been a degree of unconscious receptivity at play here. My body chemistry was right. I can imagine some DNAs in my genome fully capitalizing on the favourable physical and physiological environment presented to them; and these were setting, I believe, the foundations for my rounded personal growth and development for the future.
Thinking back about prior similar experiences, I recall a spell of solitude and aloneness when my grandfather Livai Veilawa passed away on 15 July 1950. I was about three months short of four years old. But I remember clearly being alone all day when the somate was underway. The adults were busy with all the traditional ceremonies. I was on my own, sitting nearby on a stone that formed the foundation of the bure next door. There were no other children around. Strange, I thought. I was left to my own devices and I chose aloneness. I can’t imagine my young mind taking in all the surroundings at the time and processing it for personal growth and development. Perhaps the experience was just the foretaste of what to come in future.
In assessing my life to date, I can feel satisfied with what I have been able to achieve notwithstanding debilitating poverty; and notwithstanding having missed two years of primary schooling. I am charitable enough to acknowledge that there were additional and external impulses – physical and non-physical, that worked to incentivize me and to raise my levels of performance academically and in other spheres of life and work. Through the incentivization and results of solitude specifically, I believe, that I was able to garner a degree of creativity and interactivity that has led to my artistic appreciation, to my wide capacity for reading and writing. The search for life’s nature and meaning, through the early motivation of solitude, has led me to experimentation in meditation including about two hours of consultation with The Maharishi in the early 1990s. The overall outcome is, I believe, one of rounded personality, and an ability to effectively cope with what life’s complexity has to offer.
Loneliness can be corrosive. But the energy within can be harvested by way of being alone in solitude and re-channeling the same to establishing pathways to incremental self-growth and development. Life’s rounded development is where these pathways inevitably lead to.
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