Billy Fox is an indie-electronic producer from Sydney, Australia, whose soulful second EP Lung has just been released.
When was the last time you were solo and quiet for an extended period of time? Actually, perhaps a more purposeful question would be, how often are you solo and quiet for extended periods of time? Since modern society has been cloaked in the fabric of connectedness it is noticeable that solitude and quietness have become behaviours that we use less and less.
A distinction should be made between solitude and loneliness. Loneliness is a dark, desolate place where the screams of your fears can be more deafening than the silence itself. Solitude is self-directed and chosen time to let yourself disconnect and allow your mind to process ideas and experiences in order to move forward with more clarity.
I love being alone. I also love being around people. I have many roles in my life where I am working with many people and large groups in a whole range of capacities, so the times to find my own slice of quiet are just as important as any other time. These are the times for deep thinking, connecting ideas, expanding on thoughts and feelings, processing and planning, dreaming and imagining, finding solutions and rearranging ideas amongst a whole spectrum of countless processes of the heart and mind. Most of these are done in silence, unnoticed, almost subconsciously.
In order to make sense of all of this so to be meaningful, is where the art of solitude lies. We all have time alone, at some point. Whether it is brief moments sporadically or thoughtful time on a regular basis. But what do we do in this time? Where is it? What were the circumstances, and what happens next? The art of going solo deals with these types of questions. If we make sure we set time aside each day, week or whatever blocks of time you mark your life with, and we are mindful of the best time of the day or night that suits us then solitude can enrich our lives, and our relationships.
For example, having some solo time in between two busy, intense back-to-back parts of your day may not prove to be fruitful. It will no doubt be rushed and surface level. However, choosing a couple of hours when people around you are doing other tasks and busy events of the day are over will allow you the time to unpack your brain on whatever way you need with no pressures.
The art of solitude also deals with catching the key learnings, thoughts, ideas and wonderings when they surface, and letting the less important musings come and go. That way we are able to categorise our ideas and hold on to the important ideas, so that when we move out of our state of solitude and in to the next experience, we have purpose and, hopefully, wisdom. This will allow us to enrich our relationships with others when we are bringing a refined mind and heart to the table.
Which leads to the next characteristic of the art.
Like most things, balance is essential for anything to be good for us. The balance between how much solitude versus interaction we have is vital to be aware of, however that balance is going to be different for each individual. Finding your balance is the important thing.
There is a stigma around being alone, which has always baffled me. Sure, if it is unhealthy loneliness, that is a different discussion. However, solitude, much like boredom, are oftentimes seen as something to be cured or a problem that needs to be fixed. Boredom in itself is healthy. It is again where we are able to imagine and dream our greatest desires in order to move forward. Children are the greatest at this. As we are shrouded in more and more connectedness, and our lives are filled with more and more stimulation, we have less time to be bored or alone, therefore the stigma deepens.
I say embrace solitude and boredom. Sharpen that skill and flex that muscle of letting go, switching off, creating, wondering and dreaming. For me as an artist it is the life-blood, however no matter what fills your life, makes you tick and gets you out of bed in the morning, your next solo time just might be where your next great idea comes from.