As a teenager, my hero was the sailor/adventurer Ellen MacArthur, who became the youngest person to circumnavigate the world solo. I had started sailing and, to me, this adventurer was incredible. Transfixing, even.
I knew what it was to be sailing in less than ideal conditions, alone in a boat. Yet, I was never really alone. We always had 2 instructors on the water in a rescue boat who could come alongside at any moment. As I’ve grown older I have come to realise that, whilst my hero was in the boat on her own, she wasn’t totally solo. There were support teams at the end of a radio, race marshals and rescue teams nearby whenever possible.
This got me thinking, are we ever truly solo?
I often go out for solo walks, to mull things over, to quieten my busy brain, to be alone. And yet, even then, I don’t walk solo. I walk with the voices and experiences of my life, lived in relationship with other people. I may walk solo, but I carry with me the wholeheartedness of a non-solo life.
It’s impossible to escape it, really. For me, even when I am physically solo, I walk with Jesus spiritually. I carry relationships and interactions, past and present, with me emotionally.
Sometimes in the noise of life, I think solo might be preferable… but then I remember, we weren’t made to live life solo. We were made to live life in connection with others – even if we need to escape to the solitude for a little while.