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The Lucilius Parables, Volume I


December 26th, 2019


It’s no secret that most meetings are considered useless by the people attending those meetings.  And yet it seems to be the default tool of productivity for many corporations.  If it’s not actually effective as a productivity tool though, what exactly is going on?


If we think of the only real other group setting, that of a social group gathering, we might wonder in a similar way.  Socializing is, apparently to initiate, nurture and grow our relationships.  The group setting might be great for meeting and beginning relationships, but how effective is the group setting when it comes to the aim of deepening a relationship? 


Group settings often require a common point of distraction, like a sports game, or a board game, or a contentious topic to banter and argue about.  The sort of fulfilling conversations that deepen relationships don’t really happen in group settings.  They happen with fewer people around, in private.


The group setting is primarily – it seems – a tactic to feel less alone.  While groups can be incredibly effective and productive, the vast majority of meetings and social gatherings only seem to be undertaken in order to immerse everyone in the feeling that there are people around.


As the numbers around us dwindle, things get more specific and interesting.  The sort of depth that can occur between two or three friends is simply impossible in a larger group where different dynamics come into play.


There’s something somewhat desperate about the vast desire to socialize, and it may simply be that we see others yearning for the same thing, but more likely this has to do with an inability to direct solitude in a fulfilling manner rather than any real tangible or psychological benefit that comes from the company of a group.


Similar to the reason people prop up in order to sidestep an honest consideration of practicing meditation, the avoidance of solitude is often rooted in a fear of what someone might find when left alone with themselves. 


Undistracted by a movie, or a book, or any of the usual delights, what is left for a person?


It’s worth noting that our worst punishment short of death is solitary confinement.  We’ve somehow trained each other to think that being alone is something terrible, and we are so convinced of this that it’s leveraged as a kind of torture.


But is this realistic?  Is it that unbearable to spend time with one’s own thoughts?


Without training, perhaps.


Without a real understanding of the benefits, probably.


With a fear of solitude running wild, then certainly,


as Milton once wrote:


“The mind is it’s own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”

Simply put, we are capable of torturing ourselves, using nothing but our own mind.  This everything tool can of course be inverted and we can bask in a personal paradise if we so aim.


Given this, it’s interesting to wonder if the common wisdom about socializing and company and spending time in groups really holds any real water in the weight of its argument.


Is it possible that we actively hold one another back from our own personal paradise?




Can it pay off big time to go against the crowd? 




Might this issue of solitude packaged as loneliness might be one of the areas where the wisdom of the masses has it exactly wrong?


Well, it’s certainly hard to figure that out with so many people around.




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Podcast Ep. 620: Our Own Place

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