Post number 7 of 33 in The Ganymede Progression.

Solitude and Isolation are contrasting ways to look at a similar experience: that of being alone. One can be solitary, preferring to be alone and enjoying that time to oneself, or one can be isolated, cut off from their peers in a detrimental way. Whilst there are differences in the meanings of these terms, I feel they’re both fundamentally about being away from other people and in one’s own company. They are parallel ways of looking at the same thing, and what for me may be solitude, for another may be isolation. Solitude is a pleasure; isolation is lonely. In my life I’ve experienced both of these extremes.

I mentioned in my previous post on anger that I was a solitary child growing up, and it’s true – I spent a lot of time by myself, learning to appreciate my own company and entertain myself. This was in part because of difficulties in my family home which led me to want to, honestly, hide away. But in that hiding place I found solace, and peace. I learned the pleasures of reading both fiction and non-fiction, a passion which would lead me to my English Lit and Philosophy degree years later. I learned to enjoy nature, walking in the countryside which surrounded my childhood home, learning the names of the birds and the trees. And I would learn to trust myself, to accept myself, and to understand that, despite the circumstances of my home, I was an OK guy.

At the same time, I felt isolated from my friends, most of whom lived some 10 miles away in the nearest town. There were no buses and the prospect of cycling the 10 miles every day across the Chiltern hills (which stood between the town and my village) was not an enticing one. I longed for some company at times, and when the internet came along I was an early adopter, spending a lot of time on music forums and forming friendships with people far away. This led to several long-distance relationships, including one with a girl from central Sweden. I only met her three times during our relationship, and whilst they remain some of the happiest times in my life, three weeks in 11 months certainly left me feeling isolated.

Jedi believe that all things are connected; I believe all is one. I suppose my experiences of solitude and isolation might make that less likely. That perhaps spending time feeling “alone” might lead a person to the conclusion that they can be “cut off” from that which surrounds them. Personally I’ve found the opposite is true. I know I can make it alone, because I’ve done that. I know I can survive a harsh environment by myself, if I need to. I know that the trees and birds and little copses are part of what makes me, me. I know that my friends are too, and that the usernames on internet forums mask real faces, real people in other places. I feel these connections as a consequence of my isolation, of my solitude.

And I know that, in solitude, one can come to peace. Meditation has long been a part of my path, and in that profound solitude behind our eyes, behind our thoughts, I find a connection which cannot be denied – when I meditate I am one, alone. But I am not just tzb sat on his zafu; my roots go down, through my seat, up in my breath. I am the breeze on my skin, the heat or cold in the room. I am the noise in the street and the people in the next apartment. When I meditate, I am one, alone. And that one is the entire universe.

To be Jedi is to be comfortable in one’s own skin, knowing quietly that the rest of the world, of the universe, is our ally. To be Jedi is to get rid of the idea of isolation in ourselves, and to know only a profound connection with all things. Sure, we might get lonely sometimes, long for some human contact. But we know that even without that contact, all that is “human” is within us. But we also practice compassion, and don’t expect everyone to share our understanding. We know that for some, isolation is a very real problem. We understand that loneliness can lead to depression and anxiety. And whilst we may be comfortable in solitude, we don’t leave others to suffer it alone.

To be Jedi is to be an ally of all people, all places. To understand we are connected at a profound level, a left hand meeting the right. We accept that the hands may lie apart, but that through the body, the Force, they are one. It is only a matter of perception; just as it is when differentiating between solitude and isolation.