Saturday, September 23, 2017

The clarity of loneliness


Weekend reading: Marilynne Robinson's When I Was a Child I Read Books, a compilation of essays on faith, American generosity and liberality, and many more.

Ms. Robinson writes about her upbringing in Idaho, where solitude was considered a virtue rather a moral failing. This stands in contrast to the prevailing suspicion that a person who likes to be alone must be depressed.

She writes:

It seems to me that, within limits the Victorians routinely transgressed, the exercise of finding the ingratiating qualities of grave or fearful experience is very wholesome and stabilizing. I am vehemently grateful that, by whatever means, I learned to assume that loneliness should be in part pleasure, sensitizing and clarifying, and that it is even a truer bond among people than any kind of proximity. It may be mere historical conditioning, but when I see a man or a woman alone, he or she looks mysterious to me, which is only to say that for a moment I see another human being clearly.

I remember my introverted friends and how I like to torture them with unwanted attention. So far they have not punched me in the face. I still see them clearly.

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