The pattern of solitude

“Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god.”
Sir Francis Bacon

How is it that one can be utterly alone in a busy, dense crowd? I’ll never understand how feelings of isolation and alienation can both thrive in the middle of what seems to be their antithesis. It’s like weed in the flower bed. It shouldn’t be possible, and yet there it is.

Sometimes, I fear that life is mere coping with lonliness. Sure, there are nations of citizens, organizations of employees, communities of familes, teams of athletes, and circles of friends — all fractal examples of plurality. Yet, how do we still manage to feel alone in crowded rooms?

I think these packs of people that we constantly assemble about us, whether in the tens or tens of thousands, are attempts to deny the inevitable: that we will one day die alone. Just as surely as we entered the world alone, we leave it the same.

I sincerely hope that I am terribly wrong.

A very dear friend told me recently that our lives should be defined by our faith in the larger order of things. I.e., all good things to those who wait. I suppose the only way in which I can exercise such faith in the superorganism is to go out and invest myself in others, in order to find myself.

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  1. Wow, great (archival) post, Rob. Your sentence about coming into and exiting the world alone reminds me of the song by Ben Folds, called “Prison Food.”

  2. Hmm, I’ll have to look up that song, Sar. I’m not too familiar with their music.

    Funny that you should find this. I was just thinking these thoughts again recently.

    …can’t remember where I heard this story — prolly a movie, Donnie Darko? — but it’s about a family dog who had crawled under a patio to die alone. It was such a sad image, that the animal didn’t seek out its family in that last moment. It sought solitude. Hmm, have to find the source of that one.

  3. Man, that is sad, Rob-O. The good news is that solitude, in measured quantities, can be good for us, if we’ll only let it.

    Let me know what you think of that song.

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