The balance of aloneness and togetherness

These days, we’re holidaying with friends in the DC area. It’s incredibly satisfying to know that every day, you’ll be seeing familiar faces, exchanging ideas, feelings, memories with them. You won’t be spending the day in your own personal orbit.

At times, though, you wonder where *you* are.

Socializing with kindred souls is spiritual, emotional, fulfilling. It’s hard to tug yourself away. Raihana, at 21 months, has the same struggle. She doesn’t want to go to bed. She screams at bedtime. At times I’m the same way. Sleep and weariness fills my limbs, but I don’t want to sleep.

When I consider going to bed, I am haunted by the days that mingle into each other, when all I do is work and study, care for the baby, take her to school, pick her up from school, and so on.

But after a few days of fevered socializing, in spite of myself, I find my heart stealing inwards into my rib cage, my mind tiptoeing around to find a cubbyhole. My eyes wander beyond my friend Maliha’s pretty bamboo blinds to the bare trees outdoors, the gray branches swaying gently in the wind, the clouds scurrying across the great blue. I’m trying to find myself again, trying to find my spiritual compass, my emotional home.

I am enjoying myself intensely, but I need to find a balance where I am connected to myself inwardly and connected to others outside. The way my life goes, though, it’s usually one or the other, but I’d like to be the tightrope artist that balances both sides of her body perfectly. I do feel that, now that my immediate social hunger has been somewhat satisfied, a few days into the vacation, I try to breathe Hu *while* I am surrounded by loved ones.

8 thoughts on “The balance of aloneness and togetherness”

  1. Salaams sis

    Robert Ornstein’s ‘The Evolution of Consciousness’ is one solution to the fragmentation of self that is part and parcel of the liquid society in which we live.

    It’s a Sufi way, I gather, but articulated in terms of neuropsychology (Ornstein being both murid to the controversial Idries Shah and an psychologiy lecturer).

    A belated Eid Mubarak


  2. same goes for me. There are some kinds of company that will give me nothing, over which I would rather choose loneliness. The balancing also requires quality company, isn’t it?

  3. vinod, sometimes it’s easier to balance *without* quality company 🙂 Quality company is absorbing.

    And a belated Eid mubarak to you, Julaybib. I wish I could find the time to read that, but perhaps you could summarize some key ideas for us?

  4. Very belated & sadly sad Eid Mubarack to you…

    I have been reading you blog with hope and admiration for quite some time (having followed you for something like 3 addresses). I just heard the news about Benazire Bhutto, and while I have never been able to really figure out her politics (given the day-to-day reality of most Pakistanis), I am so very sad. I remember when she was a young woman and an inspiration to women all around the world.

    Politics aside, this is an ominous day for not only Pakistan, but the world…

  5. A belated Eid Mubarak to you, dear Sister, and your family.

    How wonderful that you visited with Maliha 🙂 I know what you mean about the confluence of day to day life that needs the perspective of inward solitude. Saying your zekr helps a lot, even when you are there in the moment 🙂

    Ya Haqq!

  6. Hey Koonj,

    wonderful to hear you’re spending holidays with friends and family. I totally hear you on the tightrope act – am reading Ingrid Mattson’s book (2008), which put it in such a perfect nutshell: “To be awake to God, while awake to the world, is the goal of seekers of the Divine.”(pp.17)

    warmest wishes,…

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