Cafe Hopper Reflection on Alone-ness

I saw this quote by Oscar Wilde one if the mornings when I woke up and it hit me very strongly. It’s very healthy to spend time alone. We all need to learn to be alone so that we are not defined by others. How true this is! Cafe is a good place to be alone and yet not feeling too lonely. Like for now, I am alone here in a cafe but I am not lonely. Just diagonally across me is a European lady, also busy typing on her iPad. Of course and she is alone as well. I am sure that she is enjoying her time alone too. As I look across the cafe, I see quite a number of people by themselves, doing their works or reflection. We certainly need time that we can lock ourselves in and be totally “myself”. Only when we are locked in then can we see ourselves clearer. Oh trust me, it takes lots of courage and bravery to see yourself. I remember through my darkest moment in life, when I am locked in, just me and myself, it was a scary moment when I saw “myself”. This is not some mystical experience…it is a real mental, emotional and spiritual experience.

So often when we are with somebody, we are defined by that somebody. We will behave in a manner that s acceptable by that some one. Thus, when you are not locked in, you will always see others in yourself. But, when we allow ourselves to be locked in…and allow I to see You….that is an experience that is not often pleasant. There come another gentleman sitting besides me, and he is alone too. This solo experience is so sacred and so divine. I remember putting a group of students through such a solo experience and wow….they discovered that it was so hard for them to be alone. They were also amazed at the thoughts that flowed through their minds and most importantly they enjoyed that solo experience. There is a ritual in the Haj where pilgrims have to spend a night in this mountain all by themselves, not talking to anyone, just between the I and God. Many of them would tell you that this solo experience can be very scary or it can be most revealing of the I in them.

Well, we thank God for cafes. Most of us are not serious pilgrims that we need to go through such rigorous solo experience. But if we can take an hour or so, make date with yourself, sit down in a nice corner of a cafe and just do some thinking, you will find that the experience is indescribable. For Christians, it may be a fresh new encounter with God! Besides doing my quiet time nowadays, I also practise meditation just before I go to sleep nowadays. I want to make it a point to sit down quietly at least for 10 to 15 mins a day. This is to clear your mind of thoughts and other distraction. I love doing this. I don’t think there is anything unchristian about this. See, we are very often defined by others….I rather not be.

Take sometime to be alone this weekend. Cancel all your happening appointments with your friends or buddies. Give your wife the license to shop for anything she wants. Give your husband a two hours break from his normal routine. People, you will find this very refreshing and enriching.

The gatekeeper

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