On the nature of solitude

I don’t like being by myself as much as I am these days.  It’s something I struggle with quite a bit. I’ve had quite a while to reflect on this topic, and there’s a couple of words that are often used to describe the situation, but they mean quite different things to me.

The first is “alone“. To me, being alone, is to not have physical or mental proximity to other humans. This is relatively rare, and for me is a choice that I make if I decide to isolate myself. I like to be alone at times, and to ride, and to run. They are my favourite things to do alone.

The second is “lonely“. This is a feeling of a lack of connectedness with other humans, and in my case I feel this more strongly without a partner. I’m certainly least lonely at this stage when I have my close buddies over, chilling and talking shit. I feel less lonely when I have George with me.

Those who know me IRL would probably consider me fairly extroverted, and that’s true to some extent. I do enjoy being in groups of humans, and it’s something I’ve become comfortable at. It’s not natural for me by any means, I was taught this by my parents, and something that I’ve worked on in my career. What many people might not understand is that I do like to be alone at times, and to contemplate the vastness during that time. I’ve never really been able to describe it well, but I like to ride (and now run) to the limits of my physical capabilities – and use that so my thoughts become focussed on “the now”.

I’ve done this for years, and really didn’t notice what I was doing until I had a conversation with a Twitter friend about what she gets out of Yoga and the mindfulness aspects of it. I like this alone, it’s active or voluntary alone-ness.

Then I read this;  http://www.brainpickings.org/2014/09/03/how-to-be-alone-school-of-life/

I was impressed by how it seemed to accurately describe my feelings on the matter. The distinct difference between alone-ness and loneliness was laid bare and what was confusing to me (I like to be alone, I don’t like to be lonely) and how the world reacts to the alone-ness. I must say I’ve not really felt any great society pressure about my need to be alone. Probably because it’s hidden behind my physical activities that are considered normal to be performed solo.

Turning the gaze to loneliness it’s a bit harder to reconcile my thoughts and feelings on the emotion. While I’d like to “not care”, I find it very hard – and it’s almost something that I find defining as a human. I’m unsure what other people in similar situations to myself do, or if they feel the same way. I suspect that at at this point some form of substitution of life occurs, where distraction, numbing or soothing becomes commonplace.

Working long hours? Drinking? Drugs? Religion?

Who knows?

Excuse me while I go for a ride and think about it a bit more…

Men will always be mad, and those who think they can cure them are the maddest of all. “