By Shameelah Khan
“Loneliness and solitude are two different things. When you are lonely, it is easy to delude yourself into believing that you are on the right path. Solitude is better for us, as it means being alone without feeling lonely.”
-Shams of Tabriz
The above quote is taken from the great spiritual master Shams of Tabriz, teacher and spiritual guide of Rumi. I first heard of Shams in the book The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak, now one of my favourite Turkish writer’s. It was after having read her book that I was inspired to undergo a spiritual awaking of my own and I did so with great difficulty but with a profound awareness of what solitude may be and how, often-I knew very little of the state of being. It takes a lot to get to it, a lot harder than I had imagined. To find it within the self is to find the self. The need to understand loneliness in all of its painful-awakenings was at the root of my journey, which I continue to journey through every day. I guess- I owe it to my solitude to continue trying to find it.
In the year 2014, I decided that I would sit in a 10-day silent retreat. I fasted from sunrise to sunset and when I did consume, it would only be water, fruits and vegetables. I decided that my phone would be switched off and that under no circumstances was I allowed to engage with anyone. Below are some snippets that were taken from the documentation:
It feels as if I haven’t slept.
Not like this.
I think I will sleep for a few more hours
This house is silent
Am I awake?
‘Memories of sin flow through me like an endless dream of wantingness.’
I have to remember to breathe
What does it sound like?
I miss God.
I had a dream of the boy I met in high School
In the library
I remember only the bits of sunlight in the room.
Station of Playful teasing
Happy relaxation in speech behaviour
I feel like opening the door to breathe- just a little
I don’t know if I can fall asleep.
I miss my sister.
It has been awful in here.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs
I even hear voices now
The sun is rising
8 whole days of not speaking.
I’m speaking to myself
(And I’m not as funny as I thought)
Deprivation is the step to conquering the soul
My dreams about drowning in the ocean is reoccurring in here.
Tomorrow I will leave this world I built and speak to my family in the morning
We will have a meal together
This issue is a compilation of how various souls experienced their solitude in the spaces of Self, history, memory, tragedy and joy.
-The Odd Team.
In this issue:
Bouquets for Armageddon: A Month In Solitude – Nkateko Masinga
Book Review: Frankenstein – Melissa Fortuin