#11: We owe it to the poets

Living with solitude, among many other necessities

Dear friends,

Today’s newsletter will be a change of pace. I’d like to stir the pot a little bit, and let my thoughts simmer. For just like any slow-cooked meal, my voice usually takes some bit of time to truly come alive. It is one that requires me to embrace all the ugliness, and the mess of my mind, of which I oftentimes have an internal conflict with. Maybe Naval was unto something when he said:

I have all the ingredients necessary to produce something. I have all but a clear head, and that really is my current blocker, presumably.

Meanwhile, in the spirit of finding that clarity, I’ve been slowly embracing solitude as an integral part of my life. Much like anything that is worth doing, breakthroughs happen when you’re alone. It is also conveniently due to the current state of the world. There’s literally no better time to do this than today.

Please join me in reflecting with these poets, writers who can speak about solitude more discerning that I ever can.

On finding love and adventures:

“There is no place more intimate than the spirit alone:
It finds a lovely certainty in the evening and the morning.”
- Canticle 6 by May Sarton, poet (courtesy of BrainPickings by Maria Popova)

On seeking refuge from the busyness of daily life:

“In these lonely, isolated places, we have an opportunity to meet with bits of ourselves, with which the routines of daily life don’t allow us to commune,”  - The Appeal of Lonely Places by Alain De Botton

On living a meaningful life:

“How would you choose to spend your time if you had no social and no professional obligations?” – that’s how you know your true self - Susan Cain on Leading the Quiet Revolution by Susan Cain and The Knowledge Project

Everyday, quarantine-friendly habits that promote solitude:

  • Sit down and read a book everyday. Start with 10 mins. (As of writing, I’ve gone up to 30 min minimum especially if the book is great)

  • Schedule short walks around the block. Leave your phone at home, if you can. Don’t forget your masks.

  • Write a short reflection on the day. Doesn’t have to be anything fancy. I started with ‘What I’ve learned today’ until I have a ton of drafts on my Notes app.

  • Delay answering conversations with the outside world, unless it’s an emergency. Unless your life, livelihood or someone else’s life depends on it, text messages can wait. Start with 5 mins.

  • Pick an ancient philosophy, and gradually study it. You will learn that most of our sufferings now are nothing new. The idea is to apply what our ancestors have taught us so we can endure it, so we can do more than just surviving. We can live. (I picked Stoicism, and I’m on my 2nd year)

  • If reading is not your thing, then maybe consume some podcasts that are good for your soul. Netflix doesn’t always have to be your first choice of entertainment. Podcasts are free on most platforms. I would highly recommend starting with The Knowledge Project.

“However, the two things must be mingled and varied, solitude and joining a crowd: the one will make us long for people and the other for ourselves, and each will be a remedy for the other; solitude will cure our distaste for a crowd, and a crowd will cure our boredom with solitude.” Seneca, On the Shortness of Life

How are you keeping yourself sane amidst all the insanities out there? I’d like to know.

I’m always happy to hear some feedback from these little nuggets of wisdom I send out. If you have some thoughts, opinions on how I can make this a lot better, feel free to get in touch: email, website.

Thank you for reading.

Nikki Espartinez

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