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Rashmi Vasudeva
Features writer on health, lifestyle and the Arts, digital marketing blogger, mother
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piqer: Rashmi Vasudeva
Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Alone Is Not All Bad: Looking At Solitude Through A Historic Lens

Backstory is a much lauded history podcast and one of the first of its genre. Its USP is its focus on providing historical perspectives to the facts of today.

Started way back in 2008, Backstory is hosted by historians who take you back in time with each episode focusing on one aspect of American history. But do not be put off thinking it is one of those All-American enterprises. Most histories are intertwined and there is much to comprehend about our own lives by learning about another’s. When you hear one of the episodes, you tend to understand today’s events much more deeply by knowing how history has shaped them and continues to do so.

That said, the episode I recommend here is the latest one on solitude. The podcast is divided into five segments and each can be listened to on its own as well. The first section looks at the latest wellness trend of isolation pods and the topic is revisited in the last segment where one of the hosts interviews neuro-physiologist Graham Burnett about the isolation tank he invented. Host and historian Brian narrates his experience of being in an isolation pod for 90 minutes and describes how his initial apprehension of floating in a darkened isolation tank turned into a near spiritual experience. 

The podcast goes on to explore the many perks of solitude and how for someone like Thoreau it led to a lifelong meditation on nature and spirituality. It examines how historically, debates about the nature of individualism and liberty began to be applied by some in their personal lives and how these thoughts altered interactions within societies.

To quote Thoreau: “I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time...I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.”

This is a thought to hold on to in this age where the ‘epidemic of loneliness’ is threatening to engulf entire societies. Perhaps, all is not wrong with solitude and knowing its backstory might well help us deal with our own episodes of loneliness. 

Alone Is Not All Bad: Looking At Solitude Through A Historic Lens
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