Man is the only being who knows he is alone.
The entire quotation is, in fact: “Solitude is the profoundest fact of the human condition. Man is the only being who knows he is alone.” It was written by Octavio Paz, a Mexican poet and writer. It stands out to me from a video I once saw of a poetry reading and interview with him, only years before his death. I remember it making an impact on me, specifically because there are those moments when, even when one is surrounded by others, one may feel completely alone. There are a couple of types of solitude, however.
There’s the kind of solitude that is not desired – think loneliness.
Then there is that solitude that is self-imposed, and even enjoyed. I found, over the past few days, a certain kind of enjoyable solitude. Those moments when there was no one to talk to, no one to ask for anything, no one needing anything. Just me.
In order to ensure this state of silence and solitude, I left my iPod at the hotel, my laptop behind and turned my Blackberry to “silent”. Unless I felt the need, I was alone. And what I found was that my thoughts have long been ignored. I don’t spend enough time by myself thinking, planning, brain-storming, relating, even plotting (not in a Pinky and the Brain kind of way). I want to fill my head and time with useless endeavors, with mental dead-ends, with noise so that I feel busy. I found myself figuring out ways to finance a Master’s Degree, appreciating the utilitarian, if not beautiful, architecture of SFU and thinking of what makes my children so amazing. In silence and solitude, I found many things I was ignoring.
Maybe we all need a bit of silence and solitude.