Since Derek has been living here, there are at least two things he doesn’t understand about me and that really piss him off. One is my steadfast belief in Reincarnation, and the fact that I take so much solace from it. The second is my preference, and comfort, in living alone. I think he believes that there is something wrong with me, and that my thinking is in need of reform.

He is not alone in thinking this way. It seems to me that our society is prejudiced against people who prefer to be alone. Society places a lot of stock in saying that human beings are “social animals,” that people must live with others in their natural state, and that anyone who lives alone must be unhappy. Being alone is predominantly seen by most people as a pathology.

If you think this way, I’m sorry to burst your bubble. Solitude does not necessarily entail feelings of loneliness, and may, in fact, be one’s sole source of genuine pleasure for those (like me) who choose it with deliberate intent.

For example, in religious contexts, some saints preferred silence and found immense pleasure in being alone with God. The Buddha attained enlightenment through uses of meditation, deprived of sensory input, bodily necessities, and external desires—including social interaction.

The context of solitude is attainment of pleasure from within, but this does not necessitate complete detachment from the external world. Aliana, my home health care nurse, says you can never be happy unless you’re content being with yourself, and I agree with her.

In psychology, introverted individuals may require spending time away from people to recharge. Sociologists have documented that growing numbers of people are single by choice, and relish the opportunity to live as they please. Being alone gives people the autonomy to choose where to live, what TV shows to watch, and what to eat for dinner. Being single often means we have fewer social obligations and can pursue hobbies and adventures that we couldn’t if married.

Singlehood isn’t for everyone, but a growing number of adults are staying single longer than ever before, and are taking these years to pursue career goals and take risks that they might not if married. And people who stay single for life are often just as happy as their peers who marry. They learn to arrange their lives so that they are surrounded by the friends, activities, and physical environments that enhance their daily happiness.

Derek has an excuse for being wrong because he’s so young. It takes years to become comfortable in your own skin. However, if you still feel uncomfortable with aloneness, do you have a good excuse?



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4 Responses to “alone”

  1. 1 elizinvt
    June 6, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    I suggest Derek has experienced so much aloneness of the wrong kind that he can’t comprehend how anyone who is alone could be happy. And he may feel that your preference to be alone is in some way shutting him out.
    Be sure to work on that misapprehension, if it’s there. Your home health nurse is 100% right.

  2. 2 SofiaAmtis
    June 6, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    in the big cities there are more young people living alone more often

  3. 3 Hat Bailey
    June 6, 2016 at 3:33 pm

    Being one who also enjoys my solitude immensely I can relate Dan. While I very much enjoy being in the company of certain people I find almost all such pleasures come at a personal cost in varying degrees of stress. There was a time when I sometimes felt lonely and isolated when by myself, but when I finally began to learn patience and love for others I also became more comfortable and happy with myself. For many years my major goal was to find and be with my “soulmate.” What I needed was to become my own soulmate I guess, because now I look forward with great enjoyment to the times I spend alone. I have become so spoiled to doing as I please alone that were my soulmate to show up now I’m afraid I would have a very difficult time adjusting to living with anyone. I am also personally convinced of multiple incarnations due to much internal and external evidence I have carefully examined and find to be very credible. It makes sense to me and also gives me much comfort and assurance in life, and a better acceptance of the part physical death plays in our eternal existence.

  4. 4 Frank Manning
    June 6, 2016 at 4:56 pm

    I have to agree with elizinvt about Derek’s attitude. Solitude and solitary are two very different experiences. One is restful and refreshing, the other is deliberate torture of the mind and soul. It’s not surprising that to Derek the two might seem similar, and equally unpleasant.

    I like my periods of solitude and silence. But I could never make a lifestyle of it. I’m married, and retired, and my wife is out of the house for half the day. I love it when she comes home, and am so used to sleeping with another person at my side. But I’ve always had a hard time with a house fulll of people. When my adult stepsons were living with us for a while, I found it an imposition and often “isolated” in my computer room. My wife can attest that I’m at my happiest, most serene even, when I’m alone on a beach with just the smell of the ocean, the soothing, hypnotic sound of the breakers, and the seabirds soaring on the thermals overhead.

    Sometimes the preference for being alone can be aberrant. Years ago the staff at the reform school routinely used lockdowns and “timeouts” as disciplinary measures. [They abandoned this harmful practice about 5 years ago.] One 14 year old I worked with was quite antisocial. He didn’t like any of the other boys in the cottage, and tried his hardest to avoid interacting with them. He refused to shower, using his body odor as a shield. He told everyone he worshipped Satan in a vain attempt to scare people off. But most of all he would get himself into serious enough trouble to earn a lockdown. He loved it! After a few weeks, staf caught on to his game and had to get rather creative in disciplining him but also to make him socialize and participate in the many group therapies they used in their treatment program. I told him that it was all right to want alone time but that too much of it was bad for his spirit. Up until his release from the facility he was still actively avoiding others, and constantly having fights and arguments with the other boys.

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