In an externalized culture with a bias toward extroversion, introversion, solitude, quiet, stillness, and drawing inward can be an anathema to some and downright terrifying to others.
And yet we know, more and more, the costs of perpetual extroversion and externalizing; and some may find themselves vexed by consistent pointers to the ‘still small voice’, the wise guidance, the sense of meaning and purpose, the relaxation, and the healing that are found within.
Though we’re all deeply conditioned to go outside of ourselves, some among the more naturally introverted may have an easier time journeying to the Well of Wisdom that resides within — or that we access by centering and drawing inward.
And so it is that, among the introverts and empaths — ever watchful, listening, and sensing, we find (or find ourselves able to be) the lantern-holders to the Inner Well, the pool of Wisdom that’s spoken of in the ancient lore and hero’s journey myths.
In such a myth depicted by Tolkien in Lord of the Rings, Frodo tells the wise Queen Galadriel, “I can’t do this alone,” and she replies, “You are a ring bearer, Frodo. To bear a ring of power is to be alone. If you do not do this, no one will.”
Though we may have inspiration, wise guides, and our kindreds — our own fellowship along the Way — we ultimately ‘bear our ring of power’, our own purpose for being here, alone.
Alone. Solitude. Stillness. The prerequisites for centering into the wisdom at the core of our being, and precisely the space and the ground that we’re constantly drawn away from by a barrage of distractions that beckon, by the noise that’s perpetual.
And yet we yearn for the well from the very center of our souls, because some part of us knows, and knows very clearly, that it’s essential to our well-being.
In his book, Anam Cara, the late poet-priest John O’Donohue writes, “When you cease to fear your solitude, a new creativity awakens in you. Your forgotten or neglected inner wealth begins to reveal itself. You come home to yourself and learn to rest within.”
A bit later on in Anam Cara, O’Donohue writes, “That which is scattered has no unity, whereas that which is gathered comes home to unity and belonging.”
We are, most of us in the Western world particularly, very scattered, our energy dispersed, which leaves us feeling even more vulnerable and susceptible to toxic energies and soulless influences, and seemingly more rudderless than we in fact are.
So we call our exiled selves back home to center; we gather the bits and pieces of ourselves that are dispersed and scattered about.
When I’m feeling this way — agitated, overly sensitive, too dispersed — I know immediately I’m too much ‘out there’ and need to simplify, center, and draw inward to ‘call my parts home’ to drink together and as One at the well of Wisdom that resides (or that I access) within, in the stillness.
This is also where I and each of us can draw sustenance and also reclaim our own authority, our authenticity, our sovereignty.
In her interview with Hilary Hart (The Unknown She), Lynn Barron says of the lure of constant noise and distractions, “If you aren’t on the path in a very sincere way, you can’t make it … And if you aren’t willing to accept this aloneness you will be given one diversion after another that will draw you away from the path.”
But the entrance to the path is always so near us, no matter where we are or how far off-path we fear we’ve wandered. And we may find, in the clarity of hindsight, that even the ‘far-off-path’ meanderings were, indeed, part of the path after all.
Whether we envision a clear, still pool of Wisdom within ourselves, or the ‘niche of the Heart’ where the lantern of the Divine resides, or some other image and metaphor altogether, all we have to do is draw our attention inward to gather ourselves back home and drink from the well of Wisdom, of Hestia, our very core.