The Divine gift of solitude.

#RealTalk vol 20

Jae Hermann

I currently have six pieces of furniture in my tiny apartment living room, including two bean bag chairs I got from Walmart. Unlike the traditional bean bags you might remember from the 70s, these are concave-shaped into a chair. The rope covered ottoman I snagged on sale at TJMaxx is the perfect complement to the one I sit in to watch TV. Both the bean bag and ottoman are low to the ground, so it’s quite comfortable to sit reclined with my feet up. Plus, I have the added benefit of a workout each time I get up, which is excellent for toning the butt and thighs.

I’m on the second floor, so sitting near the window gives me a good view of the sky without obstruction. My cat Mr. Skimps takes my sitting there as an invitation to curl up in my lap, and I take his intrusion as a cue to slow down, take in some cloud gazing, and enjoy the moment.

And so I sit, in my Walmart bean bag chair, feet up on my discount footstool, gazing up at the sky while holding my purring cat, feeling grateful for this small slice of peace and serenity.

At this moment, I reflect and appreciate the journey that got me here. I’m in a good place. I’m safe in the city that I love and call my home, I’ve nestled in a great neighborhood in the cutest apartment, I have the support of friends I consider my family, my fridge is full, I have work and projects I enjoy, and my bank account isn’t overdrawn. Here is where I refocus and realign. My life is good, and I am happy.

As a child growing up, my cloud gazing was met with ridicule from my mother, “What are you doing with your head in the clouds?” she'd ask with mocking disdain as if I was just wasting time. She couldn’t see that I was engaged, thinking, and contemplating. Every time I looked up, taking in the vast sky, the billowy clouds, or far away stars, I would get a sense of connection to it all, and sometimes I’d feel a calling, or rather a knowing.

As a kid, I spent a lot of time feeling overwhelmed and out of place in the world. At times, my own thoughts were too loud, but watching clouds shift and take on different shapes was fun and gave me story ideas. And if you've ever watched clouds on a windy day, how they move across the sky, you know how pleasant and calming that feels.

It’s crazy to think we have billion-dollar industries devoted to helping folks relearn quiet reflection, mindfulness, meditation, and playful imagination, and yet, kids do it without instruction. If only we stayed connected to our innate sense of wonder rather rush to adulting, right?

I’ve learned that my cloud gazing is my time with God and the Universe, time for profound consideration, which is much more meaningful than daydreaming or fantasizing. Of course, as a child, I couldn’t offer that explanation to my mother. But even still, why would anyone want to interrupt or discourage that?

My mother’s reaction to my introversion still perplexes me and honestly pains me to this day. I wish my mother had wanted to understand me. I wish she had nurtured the shy little girl who desperately wanted to share her feelings. The disconnect I had with my mother is most probably why I’m still hoping and searching for someone who wants to understand me, the all growed-up me who hasn’t outgrown a need for deep connection.

If you have a child in your life who spends time gazing at the sky, please don’t ridicule or belittle them. Instead, encourage and praise them for being so fucking wise and brave. Or is this you? Are you a cloud-gazer, daytime dreamer? I hope you appreciate how fortunate you are because you, my darling, are a beautiful soul.

As adults, most of us are pained at the mere thought of time with ourselves away from our cell phones and the internet for fear of missing out.

Blessed are children and anyone who can be with themselves and their imagination, taking in gratitude, thinking, and contemplating the world and how they fit in it. Imagine if we spent less time gazing at our cell phones and more time appreciating the magnitude of our planet, the Universe, and how we’re connected?

My lurking mommy baggage aside, I am grateful for the little slices of Divine solitude I get while sitting in my bean bag chair, gently petting Mr. Skimps while gazing at clouds in the sky and listening for God’s calling.

It’s great to be back in your inbox. As always, thanks for reading. I appreciate you.

xo, jae

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