I have been thinking about loneliness and solitude. It seems to me that loneliness is a feeling of emptiness that is oriented to the past. Otherwise, loneliness wouldn’t see itself as lonely. It compares a self to a former self. Solitude, though it may look as though it is living in the same circumstances, is a feeling of fullness, and is oriented to the present-into-future. It is on the move even when it is still. Both loneliness and solitude exist in the company of others though the former has demands of others that cannot be satisfied. Solitude, however, may be happy to see others, at ease in their presence, while not needing anything from them. Both also exist in isolated spaces, though for solitude these spaces feel soft and welcoming. Thus solitude can sometimes be hard to penetrate because it is already in relationship with self and creativity. We can stand beside it though, seeing what it sees. Loneliness is also hard to penetrate, of course, as it generally cannot see the other even as it is desperate to join with it.
g a t h e r i n g s