I want to be with those who know secret things or else alone.
We live together, we act on, and react to, one another; but always and in all circumstances we are by ourselves. The martyrs go hand in hand into the arena; they are crucified alone. Embraced, the lovers desperately try to fuse their insulated ecstasies into a single self-transcendence; in vain. By its very nature every embodied spirit is doomed to suffer and enjoy in solitude. Sensations, feelings, insights, fancies—all these are private and, except through symbols and at second hand, incommunicable. We can pool information about experiences, but never the experiences themselves. From family to nation, every human group is a society of island universes.
—Aldous Huxley in The Doors of Perception
My alone feels so good, I’ll only have you if you’re sweeter than my solitude.
I am a lover without a lover. I am lovely and lonely and I belong deeply to myself.
For me, it’s about morning, quiet, solitude and no Internet to plug me into the cacophony until I have written something. Also about not having a conversation with anyone. Which might be why I am single. I have often woken up to a person next to me who says in a sleepy affectionate way ‘Hey—what are you up today?’ and I answer but all I am thinking is ‘You killed it! It’s over! Now I can’t write today.’
A prisoner lived in solitary confinement for ten years. He saw and spoke to no one, and his meals were served through an opening in the wall. One day, an ant came into his cell. The man contemplated it in fascination as it crawled around the room. He held it in the palm of his hand the better to observe it, gave it a grain or two. … It suddenly struck him that it had taken him ten long years of solitary confinement to open his eyes to the loveliness of an ant.
Once, perhaps, the God-intoxicated few could abscond to the wild frontiers, the forests, the desert places to keep alive the perennial wisdom that they harbored. But no longer. They must now become a political force or their tradition perishes. Soon enough, there will be no solitude left for the saints to roam but its air will shudder with a noise of great engines that drowns out all prayers.
Great men are like eagles, and build their nest on some lofty solitude.
As an introvert, you can be your own best friend or your worst enemy. The good news is we generally like our own company, a quality that extroverts often envy. We find comfort in solitude and know how to soothe ourselves. Even our willingness to look at ourselves critically is often helpful.
—Laurie Helgoe in Introvert Power