Solitude is not a curse. It’s a gift of nature which allows a man to understand himself and his Creator, so there is no reason for fearing it.
Loneliness has preyed upon more than 80% of older people who complain of feeling ‘isolated’ and ‘lonely’.
A majority of them say they don’t interact with their family members or friends. However, according to psychologists, there is no reason for fearing solitude. All of us, at some moment in our lives, find ourselves in the labyrinth of solitude, they say.
Loneliness or solitude is, in fact, associated with the human condition, so it is natural. Only human being knows that he is alone, so why should we be afraid of it?
Solitude is both a test and a purgation, a sentence and an expiation, and to get rid of it, a man should accept it as a gift of nature. It is a situation that lets a man understand his true self.
A lonely person should try to merge with the world to discover himself, say psychologists.
Nobel laureate Octavio Paz says, “The longing of everyone is to discover an exit from the labyrinth of solitude ... reunion, plenitude, harmony with the world. But if birth, plunging us into life, into solitude, is not the source of union, is death? We are impelled to return from the exile of life, to descend to the creative womb from which we were cast out. But we do not know what lies beyond death. Still, in its own way, it is a return to whence we came…”
He writes: “Youth is a period of solitude and withdrawal, well described as a preparation and study in all the great sages from Plato to Paul, to Buddha, to Muhammad, to Dante. We live in solitude and retirement in order to purify ourselves, then return to the world.”
Now, let’s see what 78-year-old Rameshwar Rao, a retired railway employee and a resident of Karol Bagh in New Delhi, says about his loneliness, “I got used to getting to know and figuring out new people.”
“I’ve recently lost my wife, and as my children live in Bengaluru, I live alone in New Delhi. In my salad days, I was a decent athlete, so I have taken my solitude in a sporting manner, and I’m fine,” says Rao.
He admits that he, too, gets lonely at times.
“I travel a lot, and I really start to miss my wife, kids and friends,” he says. He practices what he preaches, volunteering his time for loneliness workshops at senior citizen homes. He bicycles a lot, usually with others. He sees the activity as a metaphor for how we live better as connected humans.
“It’s amazing the mutual benefit you gain while biking from taking turns drafting behind each other,” he says.
Rao is inspired by the story of Robinson Crusoe who lived alone on an island for many years. The story is so inspiring that after reading it a man will never feel lonely, says Rao.
Life is too short to waste on suffering from loneliness. So, to conquer solitude, open up, access the hidden part of you that deserves true and loving companions, and heal your childhood wounds. When we are alone, we are committed to ourselves; and this is the right time to be in union with God. French psychologist Gustave Nicolas writes: Then only solitude can give a place to an internal metamorphosis that leads you to the path of true accomplishment.
Ten mantras to conquer loneliness:
1. Make friends
2. Visit public places
3. Travel as many places as possible
4. Go to libraries
5. Read as much as possible
6. Write your memoirs
7. Meditate to be in union with God
8. Cook different foods and invite your friends
9. Talk to younger people
10. If possible, teach five children daily
11. Start your second innings and pursue what you always wanted to.