I honestly have no idea where I came across this quote. I’ve been reading a few heavy philosophy texts lately. It came from one of them, I think. Loneliness, aloneness, craving humans while also needing to flee… these are themes I explore a lot here. For me, finding the right balance between being in and outside of the world is a journey I’ll be on for life. All the while, of course, I try to find peace with my need for solitude as well as my discomfort with being around people at times. And so this quote resonates…
“Solitude is the profoundest fact of the human condition. Man is the only being who knows he is alone, and the only one who seeks out another…
“His nature – if that word can be used in reference to man, who has ‘invented’ himself by saying ‘no’ to nature – consists in his longing to realise himself in another. Man is nostalgia and a search for communion. Therefore, when he is aware of himself he is aware of his lack of another, that is, of his solitude.”
― Octavio Paz, The Labyrinth of Solitude and Other Writings
Digested that? Sat with it?
To be aware is to know you’re alone. And yet the process of being aware involves seeing ourselves in others. Two contradictory urges, right there. This explains so much and provides me with a great deal of comfort. Truth requires that we toggle between wanting to be alone and wanting to be in company. Truth requires that we’re uncomfortable.
Indeed, it’s this tension that keeps us alive to our humanity, I think. This existential knife’s edge is what it’s all about. It’s where our growth can spring forth.
Am I making sense? Does it explain your own to-ing and fro-ing with your solitude?