赞美孤独 – In praise of solitude – English

  
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Solitude is our real condition, it is a person’s ultimate condition.

No matter how many relatives, lovers, or friends a person has around them, they’re actually solitary; no matter how much affection, love and friendship in their life, their heart is still solitary by necessity. People come alone into the world, and they face death alone. There is one proof that this solitude exists, it is pain: when you’re in pain, others cannot empathise, you can only endure and face the experience alone.

Solitude is beautiful, it is not ugly. People must find solitude disgusting, they always seem to involuntarily hide into the crowd. When you live in the crowd, you don’t perceive the absurdity of existence so sharply. The difference is like having skin, or not. The crowd is like a skin, and with a skin on, people don’t feel pain. But a solitary person is like a person without skin, a short breeze can be like a sting – and the name of this breeze is simply ‘existence’. But for a person facing the vast universe and life alone, solitude can still be beautiful, not ugly.

Loneliness is powerful, not weak. Most great thinkers were solitary, from Nietzsche and Schopenhauer to Kafka and Thoreau. Their hearts were so strong that they didn’t need companionship, like a large tree with deep roots, firmly standing, deeply rooted in the earth, which a strong wind won’t topple down, unafraid of thunder and storm. Only by getting rid of all earthly entanglements can the silkworm of thought break out of its cocoon; and only by tearing down all the tangles of personal relations is solitary contemplation possible. But in this world, this is not something many people can do; not many people have hearts strong enough.

Loneliness is happy, not painful. People standing alone, ‘when the body’s only companion is a shadow’, always seem to be a sad sight for people. But if we can reach a state of simple physical comfort and spiritual joy, solitude can be happy, and not necessarily painful. Eating and sleeping alone can be happy, not necessarily painful; listening to music, reading of watching a film alone is no less happy than doing it with other people; and especially writing, this can only be done alone, by just one person, and having people around would be a great disturbance. Schopenhauer fighting with people about noise is a famous story.

Solitude is free, not bound, imprisoned and repressed. As long as interpersonal relationships tie them down, whether it is family, friendship or love, people are not free, but subject to all sorts of bonds and repression. For example, they sacrifice their time for their children, they do things they don’t want to do for their friends, and for love, they repress other emotions. And so, only solitude is a state of true freedom, people can cry and laugh alone, be sad and happy alone; only solitary people can be really unrestrained, and express their heart’s desire. People’s flesh and spirit always tend towards freedom, they do not want to be tied down and contained, but only a solitary heart can fly freely.

Life is precious, and love even more, but in the name of freedom, both can be sacrificed.

In the name of freedom, I praise solitude.

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Source : Li Yinhe's Sina blog, 08 December 2012

About julien.leyre

French-Australian writer, educator, sinophile. Any question? Contact julien@marcopoloproject.org