Solitude: Get lost and find yourself

Ryan Brower, Surf Editor

By Ryan Brower

There are lots of addictions out there; heroine, cocaine, alcohol and cigarettes just to name a few. But there are also a lot of addictions that people really don’t consider addictions, and sometimes these can be the most dangerous, mainly because there are so few ways to help those afflicted.

In our “grand” society we like to call America, people are addicted to people. Look at the way our society is set up: reality television shows are making more and more people “famous,” cell phones that have GPS to let you know exactly where your friends are, and the Internet craze of MySpace and Facebook lets you know exactly what’s going on in everyone’s lives and who they talk to.

Americans cannot get enough of having to be tuned in to what everyone else is doing. Alone time is looked down upon, and people act like you’re crazy if you want to just sit outside and read a book, or lay out in the grass on a sunny day. Why is there this need to be constantly worried about what other people are doing or thinking? Americans are scared of being alone, and will do anything (i.e. talk back and forth online, text message, watch television) to fight it.

“Our language has wisely sensed the two sides of being alone. It 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.” – Paul Tillich.

Mr. Tillich makes a great point with these words. There is a major distinction between the words alone and solitude. Being alone makes the assumption that it is against one’s will. But solitude is something that needs to be cherished, something grandiose and magnificent. But for some reason it is not viewed this way in America.

Whatever happened to reading a book? Or just sitting on a bench and watching the people go by? We as people need time to ourselves, time to think about our lives and what things mean. It is in these moments that we grow and become independent people — ones not so desperately connected to society.

And without these solitary times there is no way that a person could formulate their opinions about anything. Instead they will just be fed their opinions by the people around them, and will blindly agree without ever thinking if that’s what they really believe.

Americans are too concerned with the trivial things in life that should hold no regard in our thoughts at all. This causes many people to overlook the things in life that actually matter and everything that we take for granted. To truly grow as a society, as well individuals, we must all learn to love alone time, and make use of it to find our true selves and form our own thoughts.

Having recently read Walden by Henry David Thoreau, I know that we really need to stop taking nature for granted, as well as solitude, among many other things in life.

If you’re reading this and you have realized the need for change, here’s what you can do: go pick up some books (certainly Walden) and go get lost out in the woods somewhere (or just turn off that computer, television and cell phone), and find out who you really are.

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