Before living it, I learned about solitude from books. Two particular guides into this area of depth were Alice Koller in her soul searching quests written about in An Unknown Woman and A Station Of Solitude, and May Sarton in her books Journal Of A Solitude and The House By The Sea. These two authors changed my view of solitude from one of fear, ( “I do not know anyone who wants to be alone as much as you,” my mother used to say as if something was wrong in wanting to be alone. “Go outside and play with the other boys.”) into something I could wholeheartedly embrace as my own. This transformation into my love of solitude took a long time to root, but once rooted, could never be pulled from my soul. During my forties, I sent Sarton’s books to my mother. A few weeks later I received a letter.
June 16, 1995
…I know we have not always seen eye to eye, but I always wished the best for you. You were different from the other boys in the neighborhood. You liked being alone. I worried when they teased you and called you “a mama’s boy,” but you have grown into a fine young man and a well loved human being…
I support you in your choice of solitude. My only hope is that it not take you too far away from me. Thank you for the books. They helped me to understand more about your choices. I will read whatever you send me…
In her book “Quirkyalone,” Sasha Cagen says those who seek solitude are “distinct individuals, as complete and potentially happy alone as with our families and loves.” She defines “quirkalone” (kwun kee. uh. lohn) n. adj. as “a person who enjoys being single (but is not opposed to being in a relationship) and generally prefers to be alone rather than date for the sake of being in a couple. With unique traits and an optimistic spirit; a sensibility that transcends relationship status.”
Solitude is a topic discussed before in my writings and a topic I choose to revisit in the form of my “Mystery Date.” A writing prompt. I usually treat myself well. I am attentive to my needs and conscious of my desires but I have always had a strong desire for solitude. Many confuse solitude with loneliness but they are very different. Loneliness, refers to a lack of companionship and is often associated with unhappiness. Solitude, on the other hand, is the state of being alone or cut off from all human contact. Think of the solitude of the long distance runner just in a more extended picture. You can be in the midst of a crowd of people and still experience loneliness, but not solitude, since you are not physically alone. Similarly, if you enjoy being alone, you can have solitude without loneliness.
You may ask — “What is it that I get from solitude that I don’t get in relationships?” The flames of my passion burn in solitude because I am living my life, the way I choose. In relationships I so try to make my lover’s dream my own, at which point the flames of my own passions begin to die.
I want to be in a relationship with another without losing my own path. When I love deeply, I give up me for the relationship. When I give my being to the relationship, I lose me. I feel completely lost. My soul is not at peace. It feel as if I’m trying to fit my life into some “normalcy” when nothing in my life has ever been “normal.” I tell myself, the me I am will still shine, but he doesn’t. My only salvation becomes time alone.
I strive to not bring harm to anyone, particularly those I love. Love is in its way a protection from harm as much as it is a tunnel into it. So how do I do something for myself without bringing harm in the form of personal pain to the ones I love? It’s not about “others” in any real way. It is about me being me. I can be no other. The me I know me to be. The me who is passionate about this life I so love. Solitude reconnects me with the me I believe in and love, and is therefore is my perfect date.
Source Credit: Cagen, Sasha. Quirkyalone—Manifesto For Uncompromising Romantics. Harper Press, San Francisco. 2004.