"INSPIRATION IS FOUND IN THE QUIET OF SOLITUDE."
SOLITUDE VS. ISOLATION
Solitude is a lost art in these times of hyperconnectivity. And these days, many people confuse the idea of being alone with loneliness. Isolation is something we have all been faced with over the last couple of years, whether we chose it or not, but there is much to be gained from an appreciation of time spent alone. May Sarton, a Belgian-American poet, contrasted the two, “Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is the richness of self,” and Stephen Batchelor, a Scottish Buddhist author, described solitude as, “not isolation or alienation, though these are its shadow side. Rather, it is a way of caring for one’s soul, of sheltering it from noise and agitation, of directing it toward its authentic purpose.”
SOLITUDE IN WINTER
We dedicated our Winter Collection to this tradition of seeking the mental clarity and inspiration that can only be found when one escapes the noise of society. As athletes, long runs and solo workouts can be our most productive forms of solitude. They provide the space for inward reflection and a chance to fully connect with our intuitions. The three chapters in this campaign, “Stillness in Motion,” “Restore the Spirit,” and “The Centered Space,” each highlight one aspect of solitude as it relates to athletes. “Stillness in Motion” is a concept similar to flow in running that describes the sense of calm and effortless concentration we feel when we tap into our peak state. It is the athlete’s equivalent to the stillness found in mindfulness meditation. During this type of movement, we connect with a quiet centered space that grounds us to the present moment and allows our reactions to flow from a place of calm. Training in solitude is the athlete’s way to create a full mind-body-spirit connection that instigates inward reflection, enhances our creativity, and improves our mental conditioning.
Solitude and the essential headspace of alone time are highlighted in our company work practices. Our day-to-day company culture has been shaped in large part by the idea of “deep work,” a phrase coined by Cal Newport in his book by the same name. We have structured our company office hours to maximize the amount of time we are able to spend doing deep work while still allowing for collaboration across all our departments. This results in an untraditional work day, where the only mandatory office hours are from 1-5pm. During this office time, we hold all of our cross-department meetings and have check-ins with our team members. This schedule allows us all to enjoy a long deep work session in the morning, which we can either do from home, at a coffee shop, or in the office where it’s quiet, as well as an afternoon/evening deep work session once all the meetings are done. Furthermore, several times a year, our creative teams do something called, “beach week,” where the company rents out a beach house so we can remove ourselves from the daily busyness and tap into an elevated state of creativity. We don’t check email, we don’t use our phones, and we aren’t in contact with other people from the office. These beach weeks are where we gain perspective to set the long term vision and where we have our biggest creative breakthroughs. Although collaboration is an essential part of our brand, we belive that our emphasis on solitude is what truly sets us apart.
Message from the FounderAs a kid, I always loved spending time alone. I lived near the woods and I would spend all day exploring the outdoors or making up worlds in my mind. If I wasn’t outside, I was building Legos for hours on end. I never felt lonely when I was alone. I remember my parents always wanting me to be more social, and everyone would call me the “shy kid.”
Looking back now, it’s obvious I was just a born introvert– someone who gains energy and thrives in moments of solitude. And I can honestly say that all of my growth so far has come directly from the amount of solitude I have enjoyed. When I am alone, I can let my mind be free, jump from one idea to the next, explore the future, dissect the past, and develop my authentic self.
Running a business and manifesting an ambitious vision does not always allow for as much solitude as I’d like. So I make a point to structure my days in a way that I still get this crucial headspace when I need it. My entire schedule revolves around my alone time now. In the mornings I don’t touch any social media or communications. I spend the first 30 minutes after waking doing something creative, which sometimes means just drinking a coffee and thinking freely. This allows me to start my day completely as myself, with total freedom of mind before I must put it back into the box of reality.
Then I do what I call “shallow work,” which is emails, texts, and social media. Anything that is needed from me to push projects forward or respond to questions. The middle of my day is packed with meetings, doing high level problem solving or executive decision making.
Then come the nights. The nights are what I wait all day for… the moment when I get home and begin working in my home studio. From 10pm-3am is my freedom– pure silence and solitude. The world is asleep, and I am alone. My mental framework dissolves and my mind is set free; free to roam and free to create. This is when the new ideas appear, when unrelated thoughts free float into each other and create a novel idea, the ideas that make ASRV special, the moments that make me who I am.
Learning to love solitude is a crucial piece of unlocking our true potential and our unique abilities.