Later in Lent I will be able to create an image for “solitude,” and I look forward to being able to frame my vision of that blessed experience.
Why bring this up in a post entitled “alone?” Because our culture terribly confuses these two concepts. They aren’t alike. In fact, I don’t even think they are related, but equating “solitude” with “alone” is a common mistake.
As an introvert I crave solitude. It’s time for me to be alone with my thoughts. I can speak with God, prepare a sermon, write a story, or process photographs. Solitude is where I feel most energized.
“Alone” is how I feel when I have an “eureka insight” and lift up my head to share it with someone, only to find no one is around. It’s what I feel when I crave human connection, and encounter only silence.
“Alone” is how I feel when my thoughts are hijacked by another’s assumptions about what I obviously think or believe. It’s how I feel when I end up at mass Christian gatherings 1, or sometimes when my extended family gets involved in a political discussion.
When I’m alone the profound absence of real human connection is terrifying. When I’m in solitude I’m typically preparing to make myself “present” for others. One crushes life, the other makes me part of it.
In this image the thin veil of the curtain diffuses the world outside. The subject longs to be “out there” but shirks from open world beyond. He is alone, in a prison of his own making.
- It doesn’t matter if the gathering bears the incredibly inaccurate labels of “conservative” or “liberal,” I always end up feeling alone. ↩