Complete solitude – Part 2

Paulo Coelho


I begin to imagine how many millions of people at this very moment are feeling absolutely useless and miserable – no matter how rich, charming, enchanting they may be – because tonight they too are all alone, and last night too, and tomorrow they might be lonely as well. Young people who have found nobody to go out with tonight, elderly people sitting in front of the TV as if it were the last hope of salvation, businessmen in their hotel rooms wondering whether what they do has any sense to it, since all that they feel at this moment is the despair of being all alone.

I remember a comment someone made during dinner: a recent divorcee said “now I have all the freedom I always dreamed of.” That’s a lie. No-one wants that kind of freedom, all of us want a commitment, a person to be at our side to see the beauties of Geneva, discuss their views of life or even just share a sandwich. Better to eat half a sandwich than a whole one without anyone to share anything with, not even a little bit of food. Better to be hungry than to be alone. Because when you are alone – and I am talking about the loneliness that we do not choose, the loneliness that we are obliged to accept – it is as if we no longer belonged to the human race.

I start walking towards the beautiful hotel on the other river bank, with its super-comfortable room, its kind staff, its top-quality service. Soon I will be asleep and tomorrow this strange sensation that for some reason or other overpowered me today will be no more than a memory, remote and odd, because I won’t have any more reason to say: I’m lonely.

On the way back I pass by other solitary people; they look either arrogant (because they prefer to pretend that they chose to be alone on such a beautiful evening) or sad (because they know that there is nothing worse in life). I consider striking up a conversation with them, but I know that they are ashamed of their own loneliness. Maybe it is better for them to reach the limit and then understand how necessary it is to dare, to talk to strangers, to discover where to meet people, to avoid going home to watch TV or read a book – because if they do that the meaning of life will be lost, loneliness will have become a vice, and from then on the long way back to human companionship will no longer be found.

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  1. Mirela Baron says:

    I have it Thanks!kisses

  2. kenrique says:

    Am among the millions of people that you pass by, i also want to strike a conversation before the evening turns to night, to a break of another day. But hey, the ego inside wont let me. I contemplate on the much i could say or do or places i could visit, yet deep inside i know there is more that i want. Dont know how to go about it. Inside i am all alone, there is soo much emptiness to yonder. All around it seems life has crowned me with multiple friends to listen. But still, the solitude . . .

  3. Sandra says:

    I don’t equate solitude with loneliness. One may not have a choice about the former, but the latter does involve a degree of choice since it’s about interpreting your situation. Most of my childhood I was lonely. Later, I felt shame if I felt lonely. I had friends, lovers, partners, associations, but still felt lonely. Then marriage, children, businesses filled my life and now I seek solitude. I work alone and love it. I don’t answer the phone. Sometimes I don’t answer the door. Because of my solitude, I’m more open now to other people. I walk the dog, talk to strangers, people watch, spiraling out stories and observations in my head. I never feel lonely. What I feel is peaceful, with occasional restless periods when I seek out others.

  4. krentz says:

    Firstly, I would like to draw up a distinction between the two terms of “solitude” and “loneliness”. I am a very solitary person by nature, yet I am rarely lonely. Sometimes I have felt more ‘alone’ while surrounded by others than I ever have in my own company. It is a curious dichotomy: I have a need for connection with other human beings, particularly ones who share certain traits I have, ones with whom I can create a unity of mind and soul (or at least; that is the romantic ideal!). On top of that I also have a need for solitude and inner peace.

    Regarding the loneliness that Paulo talks about, I agree it is a terrible thing, and I have experienced it before, and doubtless will again. But it is my experience that loneliness comes from a feeling of disconnection – either with your inner self, or with other people around you. As has been said by others, this is an illusion, as from my own point of view, despite your existence as a distinct consciousness you are inextricably linked to the Universe and all things.

    I would like to address Kellan here and say that I can relate completely to what you’re saying. In fact, I’m only 20. Sometimes there is something wonderful in being able to connect to yourself in a way it seems others are unable to do or struggle with. One thing I will say is this: please don’t be afraid of yourself, and don’t feel as though you need to make justify your existence, either. It is valid in and of itself.

    I know only too well the problems that can come when an innately solitary disposition conflicts with a desire to connect to others. I don’t suppose, until you find true contentment, it is a battle that will ever end. But in my opinion that’s why it’s important that you be honest with yourself. If you feel as though you are making yourself miserable and suffer from a lack of contact with others, then it becomes worrisome, but a problem that you are more than capable of fixing. I too am glad that I am not driven by such a huge need to be around people constantly as some others are. It’s almost as if they’re afraid of their own company. I’m also not chasing after romance, but I have eyes that see and ears that listen.

    If you were to pass me by as I was alone, it is likely I would appear either peaceful or deep in thought, at worst, conflicted. Rarely sad, arrogant rarer still. If I felt truly lonely it is doubtful I would expose the misery of my situation to anyone other than people I was truly close to. I certainly wouldn’t be outside. Just know that as with all things it will pass in time and the only boundaries you have are the ones you place upon yourself. And I believe that people who know more about who they really are can also be more realistic about what they want from others, and in the end, have more fulfilling and intimate relationships.

  5. As for me, being alone and lonely are two different things. I can be alone but not lonely, for my being alone physically I still am able to do the things that requires me to be alone doing it. Yet I can also be “not alone” but very lonely. Even if I have friends and people around me with whom I communicate every now and then, yet there is something missing in the connection. As if we don’t really connect in ideas, feelings, whatsoever.

  6. Seema says:

    Funny, now you are talking about loneliness! But when I had wanted to know which veg dish you like, you didn’t reply. So, I started cycling in evenings after about 15-20 years, and what a de-stressing activity it is….

  7. luce says:

    Dear Marielle, Pandora ( I have The Gibran’s book )and Thelma ( of course I have Alchemist too ) you made me feel this morning so good , alone but not lonely, connected with all of you.

    What else to say ?
    Thank you Paulo for getting us all here at your blog !


  8. Khushboo says:

    At times i ask for this kind of solitude, probably so that i don’t have to face the world that lies ahead of me. As Trish mentioned, I realize that this is the loneliness that has arisen out of circumstances and episodes that have affected me to a great extent. The sheer helplessness to mend these situations makes me look for this kind of solitude which in a way is nothing but escaping from the intimidating situations that i face on and of. So often, I’ve felt this solitude even while i am with the people who make me feel comfortable and love me unconditionally. These are the moments i fail to acknowledge the beautiful things that life has offered me so far. The moment i look at all the positive and happy things that have happened in my life, i realize the futility of such depressed thoughts of escaping from myself and my life

  9. kristin says:

    why are you alone?

  10. marie-christine says:

    A tip – it needs to be put back straight in its box after – it does not keep otherwise -

  11. marie-christine says:

    I hope it is the crusty one. Yam!

  12. Trish says:

    There is loneliness that comes comes from circumstance and not by choice. Like relationships that just do not work out and it would be best if you just ended them.
    I am at a point in my life where I have experienced a few dissapointing relationships and events that made me realize that some of the people I know are not true friends.
    I once read that one is lucky if they can count their friends in one hand. I guess I am lucky for though I lost people to keep me out of my ‘loneliness’ and solitude each day, I now know I can count true friends on all 5 fingers.
    I spend more time now in solitude not because I do not want to socialize but because I’d rather spend time alone, or time with genuine friends and honest acquaintances.
    I agree with Jenna, that more genuine people to share your life with and that you truly connect with will come at the right time.Not everyone you see alone is arrogant and unsociable or ashamed of their solitude! :-)

    Peace and Love

  13. Fabiola says:

    Tenemos la compañia impuesta de nacimiento (familia) tenemos la compañia elegida a lo largo de los años, tenemos la soledad interna y externa,pero en ocasiones eso no basta, he sentido soledad cuando mi espiritu, mi alma desea expresarse con otro de la misma sintonia, el saber que te entienden, el saber que caminan junto a ti en este camino menos elegido, mi alma gemela que solo te llena y barre en segundos el sentimiento de estar sola pese a estar rodeada de gente…. ¿dónde estás que aún no te encuentro? si, he sentido la soledad…

  14. dana says:

    I have read what you wrote about loneliness and it’s somehow true…..but one thing stroke…what you said about your friend that got divorced….there is another solitude, another kind of loneliness, which one may experience when being in a relationship….i believe that’a one kind of loneliness that many people experience becuse they are afraid of being alone….so what’s worse: sharing a sandwhich but yet feeling lonely while doing so or eating it alone?