About Loneliness

solitary child

This video is part of an interview to Andrei Tarkovski, a movie director, poet, philosopher and writer from Russia. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest film-makers of all time.

This video also reminds me of another poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, who said: …there is only one solitude, and it is vast, heavy, difficult to bear, and almost everyone has hours when he would gladly exchange it for any kind of sociability, however trivial or cheap, for the tiniest outward agreement with the first person who comes along, the most unworthy. But perhaps these are the very hours during which solitude grows…and that is what you must be able to attain. To be solitary as you were when you were a child, when the grownups walked around involved with matters that seemed large and important because they looked so busy and because you didn’t understand a thing about what they were doing….And when you realize that their activities are shabby, that their vocations are petrified and no longer connected with life, why not then continue to look upon it all as a child would, as if you were looking at something unfamiliar, out of the depths of your own world, from the vastness of your own solitude…

We tend to be very much afraid of our loneliness, of being on our own. So afraid, that we tend to get lost on things even if we don’t like them, just because we don’t want to be alone.

In my own case, I remember very well when I was a teenager I really never liked to go disco dancing. I never enjoyed the ambience, the superficiality, the falseness of it all. But I was going with my friends because I didn’t want to be on my own. On a Saturday night, if I didn’t have anything to do I was going crazy and so, my friends were going, and I was going with them.

The truth is that we don’t know how to be on our own, we get bored, and so we jump to people, to activities, to gadgets, to entertainment. But boredom is not a real emotion, it does not really exist. It is like darkness. Darkness is not a real thing, it is only the absence of something else, in this case it is the absence of light. Try to find darkens with a light and you will never find it. It is the same with boredom. Boredom is simply the lack of presence, of connection with the moment, of connection with life. Boredom does not exist, outside of this disconnection with the moment. When we are disconnected from life and instead, are lost on our head, thinking, thinking, thinking about things, imagining how this moment is supposed to be, and seeing that reality does not match my ideas…the feeling of boredom appears. This feeling of boredom is a lost contact with reality. When one is ALIVE, one may be alone, but there is no loneliness; quite the opposite.

May be, I also liked this video so much because it has a lot to do with what we do in the Yogilates classes. One of the aims of the classes is to help us stop the momentum of moving, of going, of doing, doing, doing. To stop and to experience the simplicity of a moment, of any moment, of this moment right now. To hear the sounds, to feel our body, to experience a connection with what is. To see how beautiful, and how simple, our moments really are.

And then, it is from that place of inner solitude, of awareness, of plenitude, were real companionship may arise.


* Since the video subtitles convey only a selective portion of what Tarkovsky actually says, here is a complete translation of it:

What would you like to tell people?
I don’t know… I think I’d like to say only that they should learn to be alone and try to spend as much time as possible by themselves. I think one of the faults of young people today is that they try to come together around events that are noisy, almost aggressive at times. This desire to be together in order to not feel alone is an unfortunate symptom, in my opinion. Every person needs to learn from childhood how to be spend time with oneself. That doesn’t mean he should be lonely, but that he shouldn’t grow bored with himself because people who grow bored in their own company seem to me in danger, from a self-esteem point of view.

Categories: Reflections

There are 6 comments

  1. Anca

    I think we need to make a clear distinction between the terms “loneliness” and “solitude”. “Loneliness” implies suffering, while “solitude” implies consciousness. People usually see someone alone and they think “Oh, that’s bad,” but I believe solitude is better than forming human relationships that are wrong for you (like being friends with people you don’t really like just to have someone to hang out with or dating someone you don’t really feel connected to just for the sake of not being single). There is a lot you can learn in solitude, especially if you’re a creative person (writer, artist, etc.)

    PS: There was a time when I wished I would have lived through the “golden days of disco”, because they looked good on TV. But I see now it must have been just like the “hipster” movement nowadays – an interesting exterior but with no substance to it.

    1. Carlos

      Very nice Anca. And I would say, there is a lot you can learn in solitude, NO MATTER if you are a creative person or not. You can look trough the window and enjoy the snow falling. You can listen to some beautiful music. You can read a nice book. And you can just simply BE, simply enjoying your own existence.

  2. Catalina

    This Sunday, in church, we heard the story of Zacchaeus, the tax collector. He was short, and could not see Jesus from the crowd. So, he left the crowd, and climbed a tree, without thinking twice (of his status, for instance). And the story continues.

    The interpretation of this one segment of the story was that oftentimes we need to separate from the crowd to be able to find ourselves. Solitude as a choice.

    And of course there are innumerable examples and traditions to exemplify this. I just liked the nice synchronicity.

  3. Ana

    What I notice around and find very disturbing is the fact that people never shift from DOING to EXISTING. Instead of living their lives, their lives are living them. And even if one has a rich interior life and enjoys being alone, and progresses to a “peaceful mind” as you say, it is nearly impossible not to get lost into the craziness outside. That is why I attend the classes – because it is my moment of isolation from the rush.

    1. Carlos

      There are two kinds of ‚peaceful mind’. One is like a bubble, like an island isolated from the rest. This kind of peaceful mind is useful, but, as you say, it is nearly impossible not to get lost into the craziness outside.

      The other kind of peaceful mind, the one I am more interested in, is the one were the peace is not only in the bubble inside the head, but there is actually a recognition, an embracement, an acceptance, an inclusion of things exactly as they are. And so, the craziness outside is not any more a problem, it is just what this moment is about. There is no more resistance, no more pushing away, no more battle, no more conflict. Peace is not in experiencing what I like, but in embracing what is. The ‘bubble peaceful mind’ is a very nice first step, but we have the possibility to go after real peace. It is our birth-right.

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