Saturday, November 10, 2012

Hollywood & The Balance Between Solitude And Being In Relationship

Julia lays a kiss on Hugh in Notting Hill

“Human beings are alone. No other person will completely feel like we do, think like we do, act like we do. Each of us is unique, and our aloneness is the other side of our uniqueness. The question is whether we let our aloneness become loneliness or whether we allow it to lead us into solitude. Loneliness is painful; solitude is peaceful. Loneliness makes us cling to others in desperation; solitude allows us to respect others in their uniqueness and create community.
Letting our aloneness grow into solitude and not into loneliness is a lifelong struggle. It requires conscious choices about whom to be with, what to study, how to pray, and when to ask for counsel. But wise choices will help us to find the solitude where our hearts can grow in love.”
~ Henri J.M. Nouwen

Hollywood has a bad habit. It is a habit of lying to us. Most of the romantic movies or romantic comedies that we watch give the inference by the end of the movie that the purpose of relationships is to take away an individual's aloneness or solitude. But this is not the purpose of relationships. Even the wording of some Scripture can be misleading. We hear it in wedding ceremonies, that "two may become one." In reality what this kind of relationship is suggesting is a type of symbiosis, or if viewed negatively, a parasitic relationship. But Nouwen has it right in that "no other person will completely feel like we do, think like we do, act like we do." He says that this can lead us to a loneliness (which is often crippling and which we often run away from) or a solitude which is harder to get used to.  But if we don't get used to this solitude, which ultimately leads to peace, we begin to expect things from others which they cannot give, namely our security or identity. Sometimes when we are tempted to surround ourselves with people out of loneliness, it would be better if we simply stayed home and journaled, or went for a walk and convened with our spiritual side. I have done my share of clinging to others and expecting them to take care of me because of my loneliness, but all it does is stifle the friendship/relationship because no other person can truly give me the fulfillment that I can only find in solitude in my spiritual life.  

The trick is to find balance and not to swing too far either way. How can I be in love with someone while retaining that sense of solitude? After all, Nouwen writes, "solitude allows us to respect others in their uniqueness and create community." So how can I commune with my spiritual side in solitude while not distancing myself from love?

I'm certainly no expert....yet. :P

Mark Andrew Alward