Chuang Tzu tells about a man crossing a river when an empty skiff slams into his. The man does not become angry, as he would if there was a boatman in the other skiff.
So, says Chuang Tzu, “Empty your own boat as you cross the river of the world.”
In solitude, I can empty my boat. Can I do it when I’m in the company of other people? Maybe: Solitude does not necessarily mean living apart from others; rather, it means never living apart from one’s self. It is not about the absence of other people – it is about being fully present to ourselves, whether or not we are with others.
Parker J. Palmer, On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity, and Getting Old