Saturday, March 04, 2006

the invention of solitude

so many people are alone out there. or sometimes not even alone, but just lonely, which is even worse.

i was told recently of an old lady who was so lonely in the retirement home she lived in that she clamped on to strangers, crying, nobody comes to visit me, i am so utterly alone. it is as shocking as it is inherently human.

and then there are the millions of people out there, looking for a friend, or a lover, or a soulmate, or just companionship. just read some magazines and you're very likely to read letters of people complaining about this problem or placing ads, hoping to find a significant other, or just any other.

the screenplay of Taxi Driver by Paul Schrader had the following introductory citation by Thomas Wolfe:

“The whole conviction of my life now rests upon the belief that loneliness, far from being a rare and curious phenomenon, [...] is the central and inevitable fact of human existence”

as i read that quote, some six or seven years ago now, i was immediately struck by the combination of pain and beauty, of truth modelled into the esthetic quality of words. this is reality for those millions of people out there i just described. perhaps even, this is reality for the more than six billion people out there, no matter what. solitude, loneliness, as the only certitude and sometimes refuge we are offered, we are born with. six billion souls out there, all drifting along having contact with each other or not, falling in love, dying, being born. but all inherently alone.

i cannot help but think of this as embodying some profound and startling magnificence, in all its destructive power. yet again, nobody wants to be alone, and we cannot seem to accept that in the end, we all are, despite the comfort other people can often offer us. the prettiest stories are often those of pain and darkness, and if our lives are filled with pain and darkness at the very beginning, then...

then what?


Anonymous said...

"Anything but hear the voice, that says we are all basically alone."
(A. Bird)

P said...

despite my words, Bird's words, and Wolfe's words; despite my thorough belief in the foundation of solitude behind everything that pretends to breathe, and live, and think; despite my own darkest moments; despite all this, i still wish to believe at times. believe in a loss of gravity. believe that some things are more than "just a case of mitosis". i know solitude is the basis of it all. i know no one can ever truly enter another's inner self.

but every belief rests upon going against what you know. i accept my inherent loneliness, i accept the fact that i will always be an island of myself. this, however, might just be a starting point. not an ending. no matter how hard that may be.

because, after all, if it is really an ending, then what?