It is early December and I am now snuggled in my cabin on the mountain, just having returned from my walk near the river surrounded by the enchantment of my beloved nature. It is during those moments, at one with myself, that I find the strength within me. Those moments I sense how blessed and grateful I am in my life, for my pleasant as well as trying experiences, conscious of the fact that without those difficulties I would not be who I am today.

From the afternoon I had wanted to visit my favorite plane tree. Seated on its roots with my back leaning against its trunk I harmonized my senses with my surroundings. In every cell I could feel thoughts and feelings surging that I was eager to share with you.

I heard the water singing its way along the river bed, like nature’s voice. I saw the bare branches of the plane tree reaching proudly for the sky as if to say: “Just look how beautiful we are even without our decorative foliage!” I could feel the cool damp breath of the winter atmosphere against my skin, stroking my cheeks. I was breathing in all of the aromas of the wet leaves and fallen branches which covered the soil. By my side was my beloved dog Santa, sitting motionless so as to not miss a single caress.

I was wondering…

How can someone feel alone when they live their life in conscious awareness of each and every moment?

Perhaps because Christmas is drawing near I thought back to a time in my life when I had no one, not even one friend to share moments of my life with. Despite the fact that I felt overwhelmed by disappointment for years at being “alone”, more and more situations presented themselves in my day to day life that seemed determined to show me the difference between loneliness, and solitude.

I became gradually more aware of the fact that loneliness was a negative interpretation of my existence. It indicated a void or an absence. Solitude on the other hand was a life state which brought me into contact with myself.

I began to observe life from a different point of view.

I remember it was Christmas Day and I had nowhere to go. Rather than staying shut in at home and surrendering myself to melancholy, that familiar melancholy that often knocks on many doors this time of year, I took my dog for a walk to my favorite park. It was midday and we had the park all to ourselves seeing as everybody else was probably visiting or hosting friends or relatives.

I said to myself: “This Christmas you will do something different.” I walked along my favorite path weaving through the park before lying down on the grass under an almond tree. Although it was chilly, the Sun was shining. I looked at everything round me, studying each detail. Everything was so bright, the color of the sky, the light of the day, the dewdrops on the grass, the birds flying overhead… I felt my heart being flooded with gratitude!

The fact that it was Christmas, and I was alone, hadn’t changed.

What had changed was how I chose to interpret that fact and what I was experiencing that particular day. I asked myself why it was imperative to be invited somewhere just because it was Christmas? How much power had I given to that word, power to determine the way I feel and what I should do? If I viewed that day as an opportunity to do something different, why shouldn’t I have the right to grab that opportunity? Why should I deny myself the option of choosing to live that day differently than what is usually pre-programmed, “It is Christmas so I am only allowed to be happy if I have been invited somewhere”?

I began to wonder: had I been invited somewhere, would I have felt joy? Were all of the people that had been invited to someone’s house that day actually happy?

The honest reply that I gave myself was: “Quite possibly not, just having people around you does not necessarily mean you’ll experience fulfillment.” I imagine that the same holds true for most people if not all.

On the surface I would not have been alone, but would I have actually experienced the obligatory holiday joy we are expected to feel?

The important thing is, that day I experienced an amazing sense of fulfillment, I felt joyful there, by myself. I realized then that I was gradually letting go of illusions and social conditioning, I also was beginning to understand just how trapped most people are…

What’s the only difference between me and them? That I wanted to be liberated from my illusions and social conditioning.

That was my choice.

That was and is the source of my strength.

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