Paulo Coelho

Stories & Reflections

Complete solitude – Part 2

Author: Paulo Coelho

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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