Saturday, May 05, 2018

By myself

There is a difference between loneliness, which was the subject of the previous post, and solitude.  A huge difference.

One can be in the middle of the noisiest and tightest crowds like in the congested Ranganathan Street and yet feel lonely.  Loneliness is a state of mind where the person is craving for company because the person does not like being alone. Perhaps even hates being alone.

Solitude is different.

Solitude is not boredom either.  Boredom begins when people do not know what to with their "free" time.  This has become even more acute a problem in the contemporary world of electronic gadgets of various types and entertainment of a gazillion sorts.  "I'm bored" is a modern expression, and a recent one, I am convinced. 

Solitude is intentional.  It is activity even when being inactive, or inactive even when being active.  It is that wonderful combination of actively doing nothing while being all by oneself.

We seek solitude.
You end up isolated if you don't cultivate the capacity for solitude, the ability to be separate, to gather yourself. Solitude is where you find yourself so that you can reach out to other people and form real attachments. When we don't have the capacity for solitude, we turn to other people in order to feel less anxious or in order to feel alive. When this happens, we're not able to appreciate who they are. It's as though we're using them as spare parts to support our fragile sense of self. We slip into thinking that always being connected is going to make us feel less alone. But we're at risk, because actually it's the opposite that's true. If we're not able to be alone, we're going to be more lonely.
Like my neighbor who was sitting by herself on a bench half-way up the trail to the top of the hill that we were climbing.  "I am an extroverted hermit," she laughed.  She came there seeking that lone time. Solitude.

"For some, solitude is the ultimate prize, the key to happiness. So what’s the art of being alone?"

Yes, why solitude?

Five people from different walks of life respond to that question.

Read that. And get some quality lone time with yourself.


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