Other people’s words about … being alone
As the train left the station, I felt a sense of relief. I wanted to walk in the woods and among the trees. I wanted not to speak to anyone, only to see and hear, to feel lonely.
from ‘Cold Enough for Snow‘
by Jessica Au
I’ve been thinking a lot this year about solitude and loneliness, about participating socially and withdrawing. Though popular scientists and the mainstream media continue to exhort us to maintain our social connections as we age, both for the health of our brain and for our psychological wellbeing, I have come to believe that it’s just as important to be comfortable in your own skin as it is to be comfortable in a social context.
Garden pickings (1), October 2022.
Some years ago a friend said to me that what she admired most in me was that I am a person who has a rich inner life. I have often thought about her words and what they might mean. I tend to think of myself as introverted and shy, a social choker, and I often find myself wanting because of this. But the truth is that when I let go of my expectations of myself as a social creature, I am happy wandering the avenues of my mind.
I think that’s why I find such accord with Jessica Au’s words in the passage I’ve quoted above. What if loneliness wasn’t just a negative version of solitude? Why not embrace it for itself? In fact, why not seek replenishment from it?
Truly: why not?
Garden pickings (2), October 2022.
Lately I’ve been reading …
- [There is a] difference between love that makes me feel happy and love that makes me feel possible: Carrie Jenkins, in a fascinating piece on romantic love, polyamoury and internet trolling. I’m not sure which part of this piece I found more moving, Jenkins’s exploration of what she now calls ‘sad love’ or her mention, almost in passing, of how the commentary on social media can eviscerate someone. Food for thought.
- It has long been held that humans are social creatures, and mental health experts are quick to warn against the debilitating effects of loneliness. But weighted against this are numerous stories of those who have discovered great solace in the solitary life: Talking of loneliness, here’s Chris Wheatley, with a reading list about people leading solitary lifestyles.
- What I thought of, reading this, was the friend I no longer have. I’m not attempting to claim Pedersen’s and Hsu’s grief as my own; my friend didn’t die, and I don’t mourn him. But our friendship did, and I mourn that: Dan Kois on platonic friendship between men, with some words about friendship that ring true for me, too, as a woman.