Sunday, June 14, 2009

Quotes on Solitude

My passionate sense of social justice and social responsibility has always contrasted oddly with my pronounced lack of need for direct contact with other human beings and human communities. I am truly a "lone traveler" and have never belonged to my country, my home, my friends, or even my immediate family, with my whole heart; in the face of all these ties, I have never lost a sense of distance and a need for solitude - feelings which increase with the years.
Albert Einstein : German-Swiss-American mathematical physicist, famous for his theories of relativity.
Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)
Source: Ideas And Opinions, Page: 9 (The World As I See It)

On a long flight, after periods of crisis and many hours of fatigue, mind and body may become disunited until at times they seem completely different elements, as though the body were only a home with which the mind has been associated but by no means bound. Consciousness grows independent of the ordinary senses. You see without assistance from the eyes, over distances beyond the visual horizon. There are moments when existence appears independent even of the mind. The importance of physical desire and immediate surroundings is submerged in the apprehension of universal values.

For unmeasurable periods, I seem divorced from my body, as though I were an awareness spreading out through space, over the earth and into the heavens, unhampered by time or substance, free from the gravitation that binds to heavy human problems of the world. My body requires no attention. It's not hungry. It's neither warm or cold. It's resigned to being left undisturbed. Why have I troubled to bring it here? I might better have left it back at Long Island or St. Louis, while the weightless element that has lived within it flashes through the skies and views the planet. This essential consciousness needs no body for its travels. It needs no plane, no engine, no instruments, only the release from flesh which circumstances I've gone through make possible.

Then what am I - the body substance which I can see with my eyes and feel with my hands? Or am I this realization, this greater understanding which dwells within it, yet expands through the universe outside; a part of all existence, powerless but without need for power; immersed in solitude, yet in contact with all creation? There are moments when the two appear inseparable, and others when they could be cut apart by the merest flash of light.

While my hand is on the stick, my feet on the rudder, and my eyes on the compass, this consciousness, like a winged messenger, goes out to visit the waves below, testing the warmth of water, the speed of wind, the thickness of intervening clouds. It goes north to the glacial coasts of Greenland, over the horizon to the edge of dawn, ahead to Ireland, England, and the continent of Europe, away through space to the moon and stars, always returning, unwillingly, to the mortal duty of seeing that the limbs and muscles have attended their routine while it was gone.

Source: The Spirit of St. Louis

Something in us doesn't want to be civilized, linked too closely with Apollo and all his humanitarian accomplishments--medicine, music, ideas. It doesn't want any kind of union, but desperately tries to preserve its individuality and integrity. Something in us wants to be wooden, untalkative, and impenetrable. It wants to revert to dumb nature. Something in us doesn't want to be loved or desired. A tree's beauty is purely unintended and purposeless.

Daphne is wooden. She is that which doesn't want to be communicative, available, friendly, present, or articulate. Instinctively she flees from the most noble of attentions, the most humane of admirers. She would rather be like a tree than a person, an it rather than a thou. The Daphne spirit is so pure that it has no use for the sentimentality of relationship.

Modern psychological thinking doesn't appreciate the necessity presented in this myth. We consider it normal and healthy to be intimate with each other and communicate well. We interpret flight from intimacy as neurotic, abnormal, and practically immoral. But within this myth, flight from interpersonal contact is the norm. Resistance to humanitarian sensitivity is valid. Disappearing from the human scene somehow protects and preserves Daphne in a completely acceptable way.

Rather than judge each other and ourselves for our failure to be sociable, we might reconsider our biases and assumptions, even our sentimentality, about relationship. Perhaps some of our narcissism is a symptomatic attempt recover as strong unrelated sense of self. How can we reach out to another anyway, if we don't have strong devotion to our individuality?

Thomas Moore (1940 - )