Samara O'Shea

Archive for the ‘Solitude’ Category

I Broke Up with BF 6 Months Ago. Am I Ready to Start Dating?

Friday, January 8th, 2016

Dear Samara,

I lived with my boyfriend for three years and moved out last June. This is my first holiday alone ever. My family lives in New York and I live in Oregon. Work will prevent me from going home over the holidays.

I have been invited to a few parties and I want to go so I don’t get totally depressed. Since I haven’t dated for a while, can you give me some holiday dating tips? I mean, are lonely people easier marks for guys who just want a fun time? I am nervous about dating again, I hope I have not forgotten how, but I think I am ready.

Read my response here.

The Bulls**t of Being Busy

Sunday, July 1st, 2012

There’s a compelling opinion piece in the Times called The ‘Busy’ Trap. It focuses on how being busy is much more of a hinderance than a help to us. And, often times, being busy is an illusion we create ourselves. From the article:

“Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done. ‘Idle dreaming is often of the essence of what we do,’ wrote Thomas Pynchon in his essay on sloth. Archimedes’ ‘Eureka’ in the bath, Newton’s apple, Jekyll & Hyde and the benzene ring: history is full of stories of inspirations that come in idle moments and dreams. It almost makes you wonder whether loafers, goldbricks and no-accounts aren’t responsible for more of the world’s great ideas, inventions and masterpieces than the hardworking.”

The Sound of Solitude

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

There’s a great article in The Atlantic called The Sound of Solitude. The writer points out that we intrinsically seek solitude but we paradoxically use noise (such as an iPod) to escape and separate ourselves from the crowd. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to unplug, which makes it that much more important. Here are the quotes that stood out to me:

“In our eagerness for a semblance of solitude, we’ve lost much of what made solitude traditionally valuable: peace and quiet.”

“It’s high time we seriously consider what effect the sound-culture is having on our self-awareness and faculties of thought.”

“Developmental psychologist Lorraine Maxwell has found that excessive noise causes stress in school children and impairs their attention and memory.”

“As a culture, we are now afraid of silence, and hold suspect those who indulge it. . .But only in silence can we learn to think often and well.”

The Art of Listening

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Reader Lark sent this article to me. Thank you! It’s called The Art of Listening.

This coincides with a new practice I’ve taken up: Yin Yoga. Yoga emphasizes the need to listen in general, and it also teaches one how to listen directly to his or her body. Sometimes we do what the mind wants, not what the body wants, and we pay for it later.

Most yoga–most exercise really–is meant to work the muscles. Yin yoga, however, works (stretches the Hell out of) the connective tissue. It’s a part of the body that isn’t used to getting so much attention. I must say, I’ve never felt better. I imagine, in older age, it’s the connective tissue that presents a problem. Not only is this practice making me feel better in the moment, but ideally it’s also preventing arthritis or a hip replacement. I’m listening!

Walden Pond 2.0

Monday, December 5th, 2011

On Saturday, two simple things happened: 1. I wrote a letter on behalf of a woman who was apologizing to her high school sweetheart 40 years after breaking his heart. It was the most meaningful letter I’ve written in a while. I hope she tells me what his reaction is, and I hope it’s positive. I can’t imagine he’d still be bitter, but you never know.

And 2. I read this article: Getting Far, Far Away From It All. I’m sure I’m repeating myself, but I think our greatest loss in the age of technology is solitude. People don’t have to be alone if they don’t want to be and that’s not good. We need to be alone–savoring the silence–to connect with ourselves and recharge.

The article is about people who seek extreme, sometimes month-long solitude. I’m thrilled to hear that it’s happening this day in age. Ideally, I’d like to live in complete silence/solitude for Lent. As a young professional this is unlikely, I don’t have that much vacation time nor could I justify taking 40 days at once. But I could start with a week-long retreat. I’d probably have to ease myself into 40 days anyway. It’s something to aspire to. From the article:

“Going into a retreat is really about breaking down the constructs of you. The whole idea is for you to take a very close look at the you you have become in your mind. The you you are in your real mind isn’t necessarily the real you.”