It's got me thinking about loneliness, aloneness, solitude and isolation and the difference in meaning between these words. I spend most of my time alone - family dead, tadpole hopped out of the pond. I've got used to it, for the most part. Being alone does bring freedom. I've been looking after people since I was 14; now that I have no-one to look after I am enjoying being responsible only to myself for the first time as an adult.
Yet I also get lonely. It's weird. I found this apposite quote from Paul Tillich(a theologian but I won't hold it against him):
Language...has created the word loneliness to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word solitude to express the glory of being alone.
That very neatly sums up one of the mysteries of the human condition. I have some of my best ideas, my most profound moments when I am alone. Yet, if I couldn't tell anyone about them what would be the point of them?
Montaigne, that most humane of philosophers, retreated to his library at the age of 38 but remained the most affable of men. He felt the same dilemma of being torn between solitude and company:
There is no pleasure to me without communication: there is not so much as a sprightly thought that comes into my mind that it does not grieve me to have produced alone and that I have no one to tell it to.
I wonder if that feeling could apply to we bloggers in particular. I know it describes my feelings very well. I love my own company. But when I have a great idea or a thought, I want to tell someone who will 'get' what I'm on about. Friends and neighbours are all very well but are not necessarily in tune with, or even interested in, what I'm saying. But here on the Internet, there is a direct link to people all over the world who are on the same wavelength.
I may be sitting alone in my library but I can share my sprightly thoughts with anyone who is willing to listen. Better still, I can get into a dialogue, reshape my own ideas, make new friends into the bargain. Montaigne would have approved!