Although we rarely have the chance to feel loneliness in today’s hyper-paced, socially connected digital age, even the most fortunate of us are made aware of the void in our souls from time to time. On the darkest nights, when our friends have gone home and the lights are off, we find ourselves staring into the face of this abyss as if it were a star one can’t see when it is bright outside. Similar to how death is the equilibrium state of life, we are all born with an inescapable void within, a black maelstrom of nothingness, because the equilibrium state of existence is the void. Hence, all human activity is driven by the need to fill this void; some fill it with materialistic consumption, religious fervor, or sex while most fill it with other people, as the void comes most often in the form of loneliness.
But why is it that we refuse to see ourselves as a company? People are, naturally, company, and “I” being a constructed identity, it cannot be the entity who constructs it. Therefore, the ego is not the self, and you can be also considered a company, as you are a person. Like being with a romantic partner, an individual must have a relationship with themselves. As we can only develop our relationships with others by spending time with them, we can only develop ourselves by spending time with us. Moreover, we grow together to love, understand, and trust ourselves the more time we invest in us.
As stated above, this objectification of “I” by one’s contemplation on oneself results in two separate entities. And so one must be self-compassionate; the individual is both the navigating rider and the stabilized horse in seclusion. As it is in horsemanship, if you are in control of the horse and yourself, you are less likely to fall onto the ground or feel the painful strain across the muscles of your back. Without stability, you will founder and suffer in the callous heat, but no one will be there to alleviate your misery completely–– only the rider and the horse will be able to do that. This cooperation of one as both the navigator and the transport, or the mind and the body, demands trust, understanding and stability between the two entities. It is required even amongst other people because seclusion always exists no matter where you are or who you are with. You may form attachments and relationships, but they will only remain constant for a limited period of time. The only companion that you will have from the cradle to the grave is yourself. Thus, the more you understand and love yourself, the better your journey of life will be.
Solitude, for many, is a fear greater than death. Solitude itself does not induce anxiety and depression, but being alone is naturally rejected by the human mind as something foreign, even though it is ridiculous that we should be afraid of ourselves. Especially in the 21st century, when we are so impelled by technological advances to be connected to others at every moment through incessant virtual socialization, it is questionable whether we as a society have entirely forgotten what solitude feels like. As we are ceaselessly surrounded by other people, we are so immensely catering and listening to other people’s opinions and emotions that we end up being out of touch with our inner world.
Introspection, the ability to plunge from the grounds of triviality and into your own depths in order to find yourself, is one of our greatest gifts. Introspection is possible only in solitude, and individuals who have not searched their souls to face their true selves have not attained the spirituality and self-realization that come from being at one with oneself. These empty individuals are stuck in a vicious cycle of searching for other people to fill their void, and being made even emptier by the constant stream of shallow opinions and banality their companions fill them with, which lead them to search for others to, again, fill their emptiness.
They do not realize that being alone is different from being lonely. In a bustling restaurant downtown, surrounded by friends, an uncultivated soul can feel lonelier than a person who is at peace with themselves feels when they are alone in their room at night. The reasoning, in this case, is that the individual who is unhappy when they are with themselves is in bad company.
While others may inspire, inform, and correct us, solitude is necessary for imagination, figuring things out, and unearthing novel ideas away from constant interaction with others. Solitude is a catalyst that expedites the cleansing of inner debris. It is a requirement of self-discovery; life is a forest we traverse alone, and solitude is the seed of resplendence and love of self. Love of self-achieved through solitude permeates not because of outer recognition or our position in society, but because we have learned about and understood ourselves thoroughly and are ecstatic in our process of becoming the best potential version of ourselves.
The more time you spend with yourself, the more you will know and love yourself. Spend time delving into your soul, show yourself love and listen to the voice that has been subdued by other people’s opinions and criticism. Slowly, your own company may transform into the ideal company you hoped to find in another some day. Although we wish to change the world and others around us from a young age, everything that may be made possible for others in the future, solitude can shape our soul into with her own hands.
And so, our void should not perturb us. If the equilibrium state of existence is the void, then existence and endless possibilities, in turn, equilibrate the void. And if you have been made aware of the nihility within you, and the void engulfs you further, it does not produce loneliness and death; it produces self-love and rebirth.