Solitude breeds contentment, loneliness breeds emptiness.
Often, in our quest to self discovery, we mistake one for the other.
Learn the difference, save yourself.
Some men take pride in being alone, they savour every moment of it. Solitude is a place of sanctuary for them; the only place they can escape to without being distracted by the chaos of the world. They value the less crowded places where they can disappear into oblivion and hope for invisibility.
They like to sit alone in the park and marvel as friendships are made and romances are rekindled, they admire the love and the happiness that flows. They watch as families gather together for a home cooked meal parked in floral ceramic pots, and in between the authentic rush of laughter – a picnic well served. They would rather watch than become part of it. These men are lucky; they get to have what they want – a life on the sidewalks, far away from all the traffic.
Others have no choice but to be alone. If only they could break away from their solitary cocoons and taste the freedom. If only they could exist and live at the same time. If only they could make that special connection with the world; the touch of a lover, the genuine hug of a friend, the approval of a father, the smile of a mother, a bow or maybe a curtsy from a contented child. If only they could escape the solitude.
Octavio Paz wrote in his Labyrinth of Solitude:
Solitude is the profoundest fact of human condition; man is the only being who knows he is alone.
I’d love to think that Paz wasn’t misguided. Solitude is not measured by the number of people we keep around us as family, friends, minions, sidekicks, colleagues, neighbours or even acquaintances. A man with a million and one friends is the only one who knows how lonely he is, no matter how many people he has in his circle. No matter how tight his circle is.
It may be upon the world to see him at face value and smile back when he smiles. They attend parties, they wine, they dine, they dance, they friend each other on facebook and they follow each other on twitter. They talk about the weather, taxes, politics or even religion. No matter how connected they are, at the end of the day it is upon him to look into his heart and pity the man that exists within, the one who is lonely and trapped inside. Only he understands that his solitude cannot go away simply by the number of likes on his facebook status or by the number of parties he is invited to. Only he sees the emptiness inside.
Octavio Paz got it right; Man is the only being who knows he is alone. And the world just sails along in a rhythmic beat, oblivious of his internal emotions, or of his terror of solitude or of his desire to actually feel the tangible presence of people than being just part of the crowd. The solitary state of man is a pitiful, and how we all run from it! Because the truth is nobody wants to be alone.