Khalid Hussain (khalid_hussain) wrote,
Khalid Hussain


This morning I went out to get fitted for a tux, which is required for an event on campus. Not something I want to have to wear, and definitely not something on which I want to spend money. (Tax deduction, for sure.)

On the way, I was listening to Suzanne Vega's self-titled first album. That brought me back, because it's something I used to listen to a lot in the 80s and early 90s.

Somehow that got me to thinking about the role of solitude in my life. I remember, a couple of years ago, just after my mother's death, reading a book about grief that said that some solitude may be necessary but too much might not be good (or something to that effect). Well, what is too much? I think it depends on the person and their individual history.

If I remember correctly, it seems that, whenever my mood or behavior was deemed unacceptable by my mother, the solution was to isolate me in a room with the door closed. I rarely, if ever, was destructively out of control in my behavior. I think that this was basically a way for my mother to allay her own anxiety and to try to contain her own uncomfortable feelings.

In a sense, there is enormous cruelty in the treatment that I was subjected to. On the other hand, given the intrusive nature of my mother's relationship to me, isolation afforded me perhaps the only opportunity I had to be in touch with my feelings without having to content with potentially hostile intrusion, interference, or manipulation.

No wonder I've been attracted to contemplative spiritual paths and no wonder why, when the social aspect of the path becomes intolerable to me, I feel a strong urge to simplify and just get back to solitude, reflection, and meditation.

As I allow my imagination to travel back, and as I recall some of the images and feelings that came up spontaneously when I was doing hypnotherapy, there was a colorless, featureless quality to the walls of the rooms in which I was isolated when I was "bad" or when it was "time to take a nap." At first I hated the isolation and couldn't wait for it to be over. But then the walls would almost come alive with a kind of gentle sound and I would begin to breathe more freely than I could do when I had to contend with other people's feelings, behaviors, and demands.



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