December 15, 2011

The Capacity to Be Alone

Could there be a solitude that had no value to it? There is only one solitude; it is vast and hard to bear. How often do we gladly exchange it for any kind of sociability, however trivial and cheap, or trade it for the appearance of agreement, however small, with the first person who comes along. But those may be the very moments when your solitude can grow; its growing is painful as the growing of boys and sad as the beginning of spring. But don't be confused. All that is needed is the capacity to be alone with yourself, to go into yourself and meet no one for hours—that is what you need to achieve. To be alone, the way you were as a child, when the grown-ups walked around so busy and distracted by matters that seemed important because they were beyond your comprehension.

Rome, December 23, 1903
Letters to a Young Poet

1 comment:

  1. That 'trivial and cheap' kind of 'sociability', with its 'appearance of agreement', is a poor and shallow thing - how often we gladly accept its meagreness as we try to evade our solitude. Yet our solitude is actually inescapable. Painful at times, yes, and hard to bear - but valuable and rewarding, and a wonderful and special state, if it's entered into with awareness, both deeply and consciously. If we do this then, in a quite marvellous and paradoxical way, we seem more confidently, deeply and meaningfully able to engage with others. Or so I have found. Amazing, isn't it?


"Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night."

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Go ahead, bloom recklessly!