“I go into solitude so as not to drink out of everybody’s cistern. When I am among the many, I live as many do, and I do not think I really think. After a time, it always seems as if they want to banish my self from myself and rob me of my soul.”
Solitude removes us from the mindless humdrum of everyday life into a higher consciousness that reconnects us with our deepest humanity and also with the natural world, which quickens into our muse and companion. By setting aside dependent emotions and constricting compromises, we free ourselves up for problem solving, creativity, and spirituality. If we can embrace it, this opportunity to adjust and refine our perspectives creates the strength and security for still greater solitude and, in time, the substance and meaning that guards against loneliness.
The life of St. Anthony can leave the impression that solitude is at odds with attachment, but this need not be the case so long as the one is not pitted against the other. True lovers, says the poet RM Rilke, should not only tolerate but “stand guard over” the solitude of the other.
In Solitude: A Return to the Self, the psychiatrist Anthony Storr convincingly argues that:
“The happiest lives are probably those in which neither interpersonal relationships nor impersonal interests are idealized as the only way to salvation. The desire and pursuit of the whole must comprehend both aspects of human nature.”
Be this as it may, not everyone is capable of solitude, and for many people, aloneness will never amount to anything more than bitter loneliness. Younger people often find aloneness difficult, while older people are more likely, or less unlikely, to seek it out.
So much suggests that solitude, the joy of being alone, stems from, as well as promotes, a state of maturity and inner richness.
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McPherson M (2006), Social isolation in America: Changes in core discussion networks over two decades. American Sociological Review 71 (3), 353–75. F Nietzsche (1886), Beyond Good and Evil, Ch 2, 49. Trans. Helen Zimmern. F Nietzsche (1881), The Dawn of Day, 491. Trans. John McFarland Kennedy. RM Rilke (1902), Letter to Paula Modersohn-Becker dated February 12, 1902. Trans. Jane Bannard Greene and MD Herter Norton. A Storr (1988), Solitude, p202. Flamingo.
Written By Neel Burton Originally Appeared In Psychology Today
Loners who do not find it abnormal to spend time by themselves, without craving others’ companionship have an innate inner strength and maturity, that not a lot of people have. There is so much you can learn from loners. They might seem deprived and sad on the surface, but in reality, they are anything but that.