Thursday, 27 December 2007

On Solitude

I have had unparalleled opportunity to be alone with myself and meditate, both upon my life and upon my subjects, and (I regret to say) after making a very promising start 3 months ago I rather tired of my quiet isolation and yearned for the company of old friends and the comfort of old haunts, the warmth of home and the careless lethargy of an unambitious life. The splendid solitude of the earnest savant that I so relished at the outset of this journey became a burden and slowly I wandered from the path of learning, maintaining enough of a hold to keep track but not enough to delight in it. As I have so many times before, I saw the light and somehow, I forgot. I have been competent all this semester, but there was the opportunity to be exceptional, to be inspired, and I squandered it in my indolence, my mind clouded by false concerns and intellectual diversions just engaging enough to hide the damage being done.

Just this afternoon while I mused upon life, I identified "a willingness to be alone" as the factor that separates the definitively ordinary from the potentially great. I then realized that in this semester, that was exactly where I was found wanting. I could, after a point, no longer sustain the mental focus that forms the basis of productive meditative solitude, and it became all too easy to find ways to be entertained and thus not have to think. Being alone induces a state of honesty and introspection that many people find abhorrent, and I - having conquered the daemons of self deceit - threw away for no reason the purity of mind earned over weeks of silent work and thought. I reached the very edge of genius and turned back, unable to maintain order and peace when they were most important.

Genius is a state of mind, and it is earned through sustained meditative work. If I dont get there in the next year or two, I will never get there. There is a definite window of opportunity, I know the path, I have but to walk it, my mind at peace and my voices silent.


Anonymous said...

exactly. i met a person who worked on something since 10-12 yrs. And, finally arrived at something so profound he was absolutely overwhelmed. Of course, he just dint get there. He used to love watching some TV programs - classical novels turned to serials. And used to watch them almost every evening. he then realised what he was doing, there was nothing , just stopped all his distractions from getting to him. After coming home, he worked persistently every evening, for 4 hours on what he thought would lead him somewhere. And, it did. There are some things which we can do without. Those things we must shirk. The deal is to be able to walk into a coffee shop that serves 200 types of coffee for the first and last time, still make a choice (you'll obviously choose something you like, supposing you get to taste sample like in baskin robbins) , enjoy the drink, leave knowing that you enjoyed your drink, no matter how many other tasty options existed.

The field of science is like that. One should be on one's own. Doesn't really require interacting with people on task to task basis. But, you can still enroll/join groups/clubs/classes where people congregate. maybe a dance class, maybe art, maybe photography, or even cooking (you'll meet some lovely ladies :) ). Well, if Feynman did it you/we can too! He dint do just physics you know.

Sorry about the lengthy jabber btw. Just came across your blog and put down my opinion.


Psmith said...

The point is well taken :-)

Thanks a lot and all the best !