comparing and contrasting your thoughts, feelings and experience with being alone and being lonely with May Sarton’s thoughts and feelings on the same in
“The Rewards of Living a Solitary Life” by
Modern lives are increasingly solitary. However, since the dawn of humanity, men have had a necessity of communication. Without communication, there would not be society, and without society, I would not be writing this essay. Therefore, communication responds to a desire of getting acquainted with the rest of the world. This is not wrong per se as it helps to establish bonds with the world surrounding us. However, there are people who consider that solitary or reclusive lives are better as they might lead to more spiritual or enlightened lives. Moreover, there is the issue of the freedom that comes with solitude. Hence, to a sizeable amount of population, not to worry about the others would be a blessing, and living solitary lives could bring more joy than sadness.
May Sarton is one of those individuals, a person who does not deem loneliness as a sad experience but as the possibility of inner growth. One of the capital points in her book is that a person can learn more from itself than from society. Likewise, she considers that there is more freedom in solitude than it is in society. However, her plea for solitude does not come from a desire of leaving the world. Instead, it comes from the desire of rewarding oneself. Hence, I see solitude as a positive quality. The ability of being alone is something not everybody has, and society puts a great deal of importance into living gregarious lives, which leaves introverts like me in a tough spot as we feel pressured into having acquaintances that do not really sate my craving for social contact. I, like Sarton, have felt the pang of loneliness as I am with people, as “… loneliness is most accurately felt with other people” (Sarton 39). To me, her words ring a million bells as the times I have felt most alone are when surrounded by those I do not know, by the masses and the multitudes. Those are the moments where I wish to be alone, when I contemplate the rewards of living a solitary life. Nevertheless, as I said, nowadays it is impossible to be completely alone. Technology has grabbed a hold in all of us that makes it difficult to disconnect from the voices of the rest of the world.
Also, leaving society does not seem to me as a correct course of action. Although I understand and value solitude above all, I do not agree with living in seclusion. What I do rescue from May Sarton’s book is her ode to the introversion as something desirable and not a threat we have to hide from others as if it were something bad. Hence, to me, living a solitary life is living according to my own standards and having enough responsibility to care for myself, both mentally and emotionally. Likewise, coming to college also gave me the opportunity to test this notion of shared loneliness in which I choose to be alone but sharing what the situations have to offer.
By not retreating from the world I have been able to experience many great things, but I have also learned to care for myself and understand how my mind works. Therefore, I am able to experience how one can be alone without being lonely, something I had not understood yet.
Sarton, May. Journal of a Solitude. New York: Norton, 1973. Print.