Reflections On Solitude

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Solitude has always been my companion through life. People came and went, but solitude stayed. I don’t mean the solitude of loneliness, but rather the solitude of the spirit, which may well exist even when we are surrounded by others, even when we share a bed with someone. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that I have read One Hundred Years of Solitude eleven times, or that being alone in the silence of my room for hours on end every day does not bother me. I need solitude to write, read, think, and be with myself. I am aware, however, that solitude is addictive, that it can creep on us like ivy over an abandoned tower. For those of us who need solitude to function, work, or just to cope with the turmoil of life, it is a question of how much solitude we allow ourselves, and what we do with it.

Here is what great minds had to say about solitude:

Solitude is independence. ” — Hermann Hesse

The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind. ” — Albert Einstein

One can acquire everything in solitude except character. ” — Stendhal

I hold this to be the highest task for a bond between two people: that each protects the solitude of the other. ” — Rainer Maria Rilke

A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds. ” — Percy Bysshe Shelley

Solitude is the profoundest fact of the human condition. Man is the only being who knows he is alone. ” — Octavio Paz

The thoughtful soul to solitude retires. ” — Omar Khayyam

The best thinking has been done in solitude. The worst has been done in turmoil. ” — Thomas A. Edison

It is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult; that something is difficult must be a reason the more for us to do it. ” — Rainer Maria Rilke

Then stirs the feeling infinite, so felt In solitude, where we are least alone. ” — Lord Byron

Solitude gives birth to the original in us, to beauty unfamiliar and perilous – to poetry. But also, it gives birth to the opposite: to the perverse, the illicit, the absurd. ” — Thomas Mann

“Solitude is fine, but you need someone to tell you that solitude is fine. ” — Honore de Balzac

What about your solitude? Do you cherish it? Do you hate it? Do you need it?

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46 thoughts on “Reflections On Solitude

  1. This is a very beautiful post and I have loved reading the quotes, especially the one by Shelley.
    I have noticed that I have an on and off relationship with it. Sometimes when I spend too much time around people, I long for it, I need to hear the silence and enjoy it with my own thoughts. But then at times the silence is louder than anything.

  2. I really love this post. It captures something that I often struggle with because I love my solitude. I feel most at peace with myself in solitude but I know I overindulge in it. This post shows that solitude is indeed a wonderful thing but there needs to be a balance of it.

  3. I really liked your post, this topic is very significant for me.
    I’m one of those people who needs solitude on a regular basis. And the funny thing is that there are moments when I feel a little lonely, like everyone does I guess, but it happens more when I’m surrounded by people.

  4. Thank you for the wonderful post. I really enjoyed reading the quotes you have chosen to share. I cherish my solitude. I feel my world can become crazy, busy and I enjoy sitting in silence with myself if only for a few moments 🙂

      1. I do and I don’t… Sometimes I think I am afraid of what might “appear” through meditation. Sometimes I just let my mind drift. Sometimes I love the images and feelings that come to me when I am disciplined enough to focus on my breathing and patiently wait for the message to come. Other times I just want to wallow in my self pity for a few moments before the gift of solitude seeps in and reminds me of all I have to be grateful for… Sorry, I feel like am rambling

  5. Our souls resonate once again, dear Vincent, as, together, we are always alone. I am often alone and rarely lonely. Solitude is my solace.

    I love the Byron quote. Love.

  6. Yes, I think some people (I’m exactly the same) are designed to spend most of their lives in solitude and can produce their best work that way. If you’re highly introverted the need to maintain that force field against that barrage of voices and questions and idiotic jokes can be a terrible drain. But basically we are tribal creatures, all connected – naked apes, as Desmond Morris put it – and there is no avoiding the price to be paid for separation. The price is paid in loneliness and sadness, and that gets worse as you get older.
    And at some point in the process of retreating into yourself you can begin lose the basic skills and impetus to interact with others. In my experience, you need to find a workable balance – even if the balance is tipped well over in the direction of solitude.
    The occasional brief encounter, if it’s only a meaningless conversation with a neighbour over the garden fence or a passing comment about the price of Cornflakes in the supermarket, can result in an updating or rearrangement of information in your mental ‘database’, a sense of social healing and comfort and a rush of new material for writing. And – good news – the ‘brief encounter with strangers’ thing gets easier as you get older, because you are perceived as less of a threat. Acquire a few wrinkles and you metamorphose into ‘just some old dear at a bus stop’. People will tell you their life stories if you let them, and all you have to do is listen!

      1. I do agree with Rosie, Vincent. I crave my solitude, but there’s a reason we crave connection, too. We would not write if it were not so. It is also true that there is only so much life that can be lived within our attics. In order to connect, we must go into the world. And breathe.

  7. the last few words made me thinking… how much solitude do we allow ourselves… what do we do with it.. I guess I allow too much? haha, anyway this is a really lovely piece..

  8. This:
    ‘I am aware, however, that solitude is addictive… For those of us who need solitude to function, it is a question of how much solitude we allow ourselves…

    Fully agree. I need solitude for good mental health, but am aware of the need for balance: ‘no man is an island’.

  9. I love and embrace solitude because it is the only medium within which my mind can take flight. This is a commodity prized by most writers, I think. I do not put a value upon friendship, or seek out the company of others, That is my unique gift.

  10. Yes, I need it to be able to concentrate completely on what I wish to write. I’ve been writing since grade 9 with the intention of getting published as my first goal. After dozens of poems are published, I went to fiction online where it’s given me a secret joy for over 10 years. I write under a pen name, because I feel it allows me the freedom to not be afraid of what other’s think of me. Hundreds of thousands of hits later here I am struggling to pick a unique path for my first self-published book.
    People like you inspire my goals, because there are so many writers/bloggers out there who are truly unique and talented. 🙂

  11. solitude… my experience about this subject is that I’m scared to feel it but I need it, I feel it all the time but don’t want to… it’s like a friend-enemy relationship But also like a relationship I’m already in but afraid to realy feel the love.
    I’m still learning to embrace the solitude.

  12. Love it, short and powerful! I used to like being surrounded by a lot of people, having many things to do, working hard and doing things on the right way, looking after my relationship. I didn’t spend much time in solitude. I was never alone, and the few times, I was always studying.

    A year ago I broke my relationship, I quit my job and moved to another country. I was ready to cut off with everything I had before, and to discover something that I couldn’t see in the busy, social, and devastating life I had.

    Then I discovered that I was afraid to be in solitude, and realized that I was losing a great chance to know myself better, and to create something new. From this moment I started to remember that I used to like writing, playing the guitar, doing collages, just to mention a few. I haven’t been doing most of them for the last years, because I was distracted with other things I thought were important to me, but they weren’t. During this period I was in solitude, and it was a good time.

    I love the quotes selection, being my favorite the one by Edison “The best thinking has been done in solitude. The worst has been done in turmoil. ”

    Great blog! Come and visit mine if you wish! I’ve just landed on the blogosphere, and I am training, but there’s always a starting point 😉 Here is: https://serendipityisawayoflife.wordpress.com/

    1. Thank you for sharing your story, Nai. I am always happy to read comments that are so long and thoughtful. I’ll take a look at your blog, which by the way, has an interesting title.

  13. Great reflection, really made me think about how I think about my own solitude. I have embraced, cherished, and encouraged my solitude, but I think it’s time for that to come to an end! Although Hermann Hesse says ‘Solitude is Independence’, do you think that perhaps solitude is just the opposite?

      1. I think that exact thing! I think that you make yourself feel how you feel. I’ve never thought of this as being enslaved though. I’m picturing chains and such, but I’m not quite sure that’s going in the right direction. How to you control this and free yourself from the chains?

  14. Solitude is a haven. A time to read, reflect. Heal, an escape from the chaos. Release emotions, whether love or otherwise through writing. Pray, either silently or in whispers to my Creator who hears. Solitude provides many things, but for me the main one is escape.

  15. Solitude is something everyone needs some do not realize its an amazing feeling. Solitude is a place where you can find yourself.

  16. I love solitude too. But I also love having a partner whom I love and lots of children and grand-children around the place.

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