Monday, January 30, 2012


Solitude is the profoundest fact of the human condition. Man is the only being who knows he is alone.
- Octovio Paz

I was trying to understand the significance of 'alone'. When I think of being alone, I think first of what it is not to be alone. There are certain acceptable cultural norms we follow as human beings while interacting with one another. When I'm alone, I don't have to follow any of these norms. Alone I feel no shame, I'm not self-concious.

I looked up self-conscious in the dictionary. It's defined as: Feeling undue awareness of oneself, one's appearance, or one's actions. When I am alone, my consciousness of self is not really acknowledged. For example, I can pick my nose, fart, go naked, sing off key at the top of my lungs, scream profane phrases for no reason, have a conversation out loud with myself...and I wouldn't feel self-counscious, crazy, or embarrassed about it (not that it wouldn't be weird. Haha). My concept of "self" accepts everything about who I am, regardless of what I look like or what I do. This is common sense. Of course I understand myself, I'm me!

However, relate this to how we interact with the people we're particularly close to. The closer a person becomes to someone, the more 'alone' they feel with them. Not in the sense that they're segregated and isolated, but in the sense that they don't feel self-conscious. You can reach a very intimate level with someone when the other person accepts and understands you as you accept and understand yourself in all circumstances. With this person, you can act in whatever way you wish (like when you're alone) and not feel judged or misunderstood, of course...there are reasonable limits.

Essentially, two entities endure and understand on the same level one entity endures and understands alone. I've never been married, but I think that's where the whole "two become one" concept came from.

The concept of self gets me thinking. C.S. Lewis had some insightful things to say about it. More on that later.

No comments:

Post a Comment