Choosing between loneliness and solitude.


“Loneliness does not come from having no people about one, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself.”  ― C.G. Jung

Whenever I wish to feel painfully isolated and completely out of place, I attend a party. (Admittedly, that’s not very often.) My idea of loneliness is  being surrounded by people who are enjoying something I can’t enjoy. And I’ve never enjoyed crowds or dancing or ear- shattering music.

Every time I accept an invitation to such an event, I end up agonising over how bored I’m going to be when I get there. I keep thinking of how I could’ve stayed at home, blissfully reading a book. So, I accept these invites only occasionally, because they make me appreciate my alone time even more.

The other thing that has often made me feel lonely is being surrounded by people who don’t enjoy the things I enjoy. For instance, I’m the only bookworm in my family, and most of my friends don’t particularly enjoy reading. Luckily, the internet exists, so I can usually find random strangers who’ve read the books or watched the movies I like, and have discussions with them. I sometimes envy people who can easily find others who ‘get’ them, and identify with them. No, actually scratch that. I wouldn’t want to be anyone else.

I always find it strange when people associate ‘loneliness’ with ‘being alone’. Solitude is the height of enjoyment for me, especially when I have a long break from college, and no work to do.

When I was reading the novel ‘Perfume’, I came across these lines-

“We familiar with people who seek out solitude: penitents, failures, saints, or prophets. They retreat to deserts, preferably, where they live on locusts and honey. Others, however, live in caves or cells on remote islands; some-more spectacularly-squat in cages mounted high atop poles swaying in the breeze. They do this to be nearer God. Their solitude is a self-moritification by which they do penance. They act in the belief that they are living a life pleasing to God. Or they wait months, years, for their solitude to be broken by some divine message that they hope then speedily to broadcast among mankind.”

I found this quite funny- the idea of solitude being a way of punishing oneself! But the book goes on-

“Grenouille’s case was nothing of the sort. There was not the least notion of God in his head. He was not doing penance or wating for some supernatural inspiration. He had withdrawn solely for his own pleasure, only to be near to himself. No longer distracted by anything external, he basked in his own existence and found it splendid. He lay in his stony crypt like his own corpse, hardly breathing, his heart hardly beating-and yet lived as intensively and dissolutely as ever a rake lived in the wide world outside.”

Yes, I  couldn’t agree more.  Solitude is a luxury.

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2 thoughts on “Choosing between loneliness and solitude.

  1. Ah, Perfume! I really enjoyed that book. That distinction between loneliness and solitude is pretty important – for introverts and extroverts alike. Great post.

    Like

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