Welcome to my cave. It’s hidden, dark, quiet, and most importantly, it’s removed from all that feels like stress. I find this kind of isolation to be a way to find solitude, but lately it hasn’t produced much in the way of lasting peace. The difference I think is in the quality of introspection. Left alone, I often use the time to review my situation, strategies, and prioritize my future course. Lately, I just use the time to feel sorry for myself and I don’t think I am alone.
The cave offers a powerful choice, between reinforcing your defense mechanisms or by connecting to things that offer lasting importance. The former is easier and more frequent. There’s a word for people who isolate themselves, only to dress their wounds and lament for all of the things that should not be. They are called victims. Feelings like that may be honest, and self-justified, but withdrawing just to reinforce them is deadly.
I used to resent being called a victim, mostly because hearing that word minimized my own sense of hurt and struggle. That rationale is the reason being a victim is deadly. It convinces you that you are the only one experiencing adversity. What’s worse than feeling bad? For me, its feeling that your struggle isn’t, in a way special, or noteworthy.
The nice thing about caves, is that they all have an open door. I think everyone learns how to enter there own cave pretty quickly. Through the wisdom of others, I am learning when it’s time to emerge. Left alone, we face a choice between using our solitude to reinforce pity or to bravely act. Learning to act bravely is not about anger or retaliation. Vengeance is just a mobile cave for militant victims. The open door that prompts us to emerge is our choice to not let circumstances, opinions, or criticisms define us, reflect us, or predict us. True talent, passion, and vocation, need no further validation than our lungs need a reminder to breathe.
My cave feels safe, however, it provides lasting safety only when I decide to leave it. Leaving the cave means living free of resentment and self-pity. When practiced well, solitude provides light in the midst of darkness. It is not the temporary, and conditional light provided by other people or by external circumstances. It’s more powerful than that. It is the light that is produced by connecting to our innate sense of purpose. The perfect antidote to fear and pity is purpose. Chaos depends on darkness, but purpose never fears openness and full exposure – it embraces it.