Not Loneliness, But Aloneness

Craig Childs

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Awakin FeatureAlone is a state of being. Not loneliness, but aloneness. It is something sought rather than avoided. You can find it in just a moment, a breath: in Central Park, or early morning on the street, sitting on a stoop, or leaning against the window of a bus or subway car, alone in a throng of commuters. Sometimes in a grocery store, I’ll turn into an aisle and find the row to myself, and I’ll pause to relish the emptiness before the next shopping cart rounds the corner.

On the river, there is no cell signal. Satellite phones have a hard time getting out; the canyon walls limit the range of the sky. The breaths you take are your own, not those of everyone else in the room, the plane, the car. The experience is becoming rarer than ever. With phones buzzing and beeping like pinball machines, constant inquiries that require constant replies, solitude is an antiquated commodity.

Alone, every breath and movement becomes conversation. Every spin of the water, every slow step of cliffs, has something to say. I grunt more when I’m alone: one tone for satisfaction, another for dismay or frustration. There is a grunt for surprise, one for amazement, and one for small joys like a damselfly landing on my paddle blade or the jaden carapace of a beetle floating by.

We do need others, just not all the time. The tincture of solitude is worth a thousand conversations.

Speaking out loud to a river or a breeze suggests we are somehow bound together, as if we understand each other. Being alone is socializing with something more than yourself and those like you. It is a way of looking up from the day’s shuffle and talking to the larger world.

Excerpted from here.

Seed questions for reflection: What does aloneness mean to you? Can you share a personal story of a time you experienced the tincture of solitude? What helps you make time for aloneness?

Add Your Reflection:

10 Previous Reflections:

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    On Oct 9, 2019 Navin sata wrote:
    When we love all being then we exp.joy happiness. Peace..as a our soul s music heart sings heart lisent. Radhey radhey.........

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    On Jul 9, 2019 Ken Elkind wrote:
    A solo state we enter, think & struggle through, until we step out alone... yes. Our instincts on the other hand, rely on community involvement! As we become comfortable socially, we also expect to fulfill our instinctual needs. Creating/listening/enjoying music needs the community. Being sociable is an instinct ...... creation of things.....
    A it turns out our instincts are what's needed to proliferate us! Now necessary & technically achievable!! Groovism is the belief system www.groovism.org our site (under construction). The question now is; How many people entrained with The One, for ow long, before miracles begin to occur?

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    On Jul 9, 2019 Sandy wrote:
    I LIKE my alone time👏🏼👏🏼And some days I have a lot and never unhappy. ❤️By the way I’m married and my hubby gets it.
    Sandy😊 

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    On Jul 9, 2019 Marcus wrote:
    I AM creating an Aloneness Pilgrimage. Over the past 4 yrs I've bought and refurbished a rugged 4x4 Truck w/ self sustainable camper. Today I begin a trek that seems to lead to the Northern New Mexico mountains for extended off grid boondocking camping by myself. Not to avoid other people to live in the places where I find my nameless self and commune with all Nature around me. I'm 67 yo and the whole of this life experience has been preparing me for this.

    I will return to the world as Spirit/Tao directs

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    On Jul 8, 2019 Shyam wrote:
    Recently attended a Vipassana Session. It is a place where one enjoys aloneness, as there is no phone , no net, no communication through speech or written, not even an eye contact for 10 days.
    Real deep sense of fulfilment with this aloneness.

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    On Jul 6, 2019 Jagdish P Dave wrote:
    Aloneness is the state of being, as the author says, and that is the time when I feel deeply connected with myself, finding myself, and that is the way I feel aloneness in a positive and constructive way. I feel aloneness and fullness when I am walking in the natural environment and feel being a part of nature, being connected with nature. That is aloneness to me. I am in the state of being and not in the state of doing. Aloneness to me is a shift from the zone of doing where the mind is busy, cluttered and chattering. When I make a shift from doing to being I feel deeply connected with myself, with nature, with the people around me. That to me is aloneness. I experience that many many times when I am by myself, with myself, engaged in doing something that is deep and profound. I experience that when I am fully absorbed in listening to music. By practicing Mindfulness Meditation regularly I feel aloneness and not loneliness. These are the times that I feel full inside myself and nothin... [View Full Comment] Aloneness is the state of being, as the author says, and that is the time when I feel deeply connected with myself, finding myself, and that is the way I feel aloneness in a positive and constructive way. I feel aloneness and fullness when I am walking in the natural environment and feel being a part of nature, being connected with nature. That is aloneness to me. I am in the state of being and not in the state of doing. Aloneness to me is a shift from the zone of doing where the mind is busy, cluttered and chattering. When I make a shift from doing to being I feel deeply connected with myself, with nature, with the people around me. That to me is aloneness. I experience that many many times when I am by myself, with myself, engaged in doing something that is deep and profound. I experience that when I am fully absorbed in listening to music. By practicing Mindfulness Meditation regularly I feel aloneness and not loneliness. These are the times that I feel full inside myself and nothing is missing at the moment.
    As I mentioned before, when I am fully connected with myself and fully present to myself, I experience that tincture of solitude. I feel at home. I feel solitary without missing anything in my life. That experience of fullness provides the tincture of solitude.
    Last week I was listening to a podcast on Mindful Living. The speaker recommended to take one hou a day solitary retreat. During this alone time be mindful of how you feel when you are alone. If you practice it regularly, you cultivate the ability of being by yourself without feeling lonely. I followed his advice. Since I have been practicing mindfulness meditation, this everyday retreat experience was very helpful to me.During this one hour of alone time I feel deeply connected with myself. We all need to cultivate our ability to be at ease with ourselves when we are by ourselves. It is like home coming.
    Namaste!
    Jagdish P Dave[Hide Full Comment]

    2 replies: Enjoyed, Nhi | Post Your Reply
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    On Jul 6, 2019 David Doane wrote:
    Orson Welles said, "We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone." That's not sad, that's just how it is. And Lily Tomlin wisely said, "We're all in this together alone." Again, that's not sad, that's just how we are. Each wave in the ocean is differentiated and is part of one ocean. We can share and be intimately close with another, and are still essentially and ultimately alone. Tincture is an interesting word. It means a medicinal solution made of various ingredients. I sometimes experience the tincture of solitude when I make a decision, for a decision is comprised of more ingredients than I can imagine, is simultaneously mine alone, and is medicinal if it makes me more whole. I am aware of this especially when making a difficult decision and feeling particularly alone. I don't make time for aloneness. I make time to appreciate my aloneness. I'm always alone, and sometimes much more aware of it than at other times. I can be in th... [View Full Comment] Orson Welles said, "We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone." That's not sad, that's just how it is. And Lily Tomlin wisely said, "We're all in this together alone." Again, that's not sad, that's just how we are. Each wave in the ocean is differentiated and is part of one ocean. We can share and be intimately close with another, and are still essentially and ultimately alone. Tincture is an interesting word. It means a medicinal solution made of various ingredients. I sometimes experience the tincture of solitude when I make a decision, for a decision is comprised of more ingredients than I can imagine, is simultaneously mine alone, and is medicinal if it makes me more whole. I am aware of this especially when making a difficult decision and feeling particularly alone. I don't make time for aloneness. I make time to appreciate my aloneness. I'm always alone, and sometimes much more aware of it than at other times. I can be in the midst of people and activities that mask my aloneness, but I'm still alone. I often give myself alone time, such as first thing in the morning alone with my thoughts as is happening right now, or alone time reflecting in my office during the day between appointments with others, or evening alone time in my yard wondering and being grateful. What helps me make time to bask in my aloneness is experiencing that it is in my aloneness that I feel most part of all that is, most at peace and most fulfilled. These are times of not only the medicine of aloneness but the alchemy of aloneness.[Hide Full Comment]

    1 reply: Malathi | Post Your Reply

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