“Productive activity has nothing to do with being swept away by the inertia of busyness. It is not about quantity, either. Rather, it is a deliberate choice of where and how to direct one’s attention.” — Brad Stulberg, The Practice of Groundedness
We seek solitude, when possible, in the quiet places. Places of stoic beauty with elbow room necessary to reflect. Places of quiet walks and the indifference of cold. For me these places are off-season beaches and lonely trails that lead me deep into the woods, or most days simply the magic hour before the rest of the world awakens.
Some believe solitude is the very opposite of a productive place, thinking collaborative effort and the energy of the pack fuels production. But we humans aren’t cogs in a factory, at least we aren’t meant to be. We can be so much more than that if we choose to find it within ourselves. There is no reflection in a turbulent sea.
Sometimes, even in quiet places, perhaps especially so, we come across characters who are starved for attention. They’ll steal sand from our hourglass if we let them, and take us away from ourselves. These sand gobblers disguise themselves brilliantly in the faces we trust the most. There’s nothing wrong with sharing our sand with others, but we must guard against the gluttonous lest they take it all.
We must be deliberate in where we use our time, and mindful of just who is the director of our attention. The world will always ask for everything. What we give to it is up to us. We earn our director position in every moment. Deliberate reflection is not an act of selfishness, it’s preservation of the self.