Quotes from Solitude: A Return to the Self

“It has sometimes been remarked that writers are disappointing to meet. This is often because their true personalities only emerge in their writings, and are concealed during the ordinary interchanges of social life.”

—Anthony Storr, from Solitude: A Return to the Self

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Aloofness and Intimacy

The reason why I stay alone, why I have never had a long term relationship with a woman, has less to do with my aloofness than it does with my intense craving for true, genuine closeness. The more aloof a person appears, often the more intense is that person’s yearning for intimacy. It is those who appear to be easily or loosely intimate who are in reality the most aloof.

The most aloof individual, therefore, is the one who appears not at all aloof, who actually seems welcoming and perfectly at ease, who is invariably charming and superficially attractive. Those who seem aloof, who look uncomfortable and ill at ease, are almost always those whose emotions are overwhelmingly strong and, when they finally do connect with another, have almost unbearably strong connections, unbearable because, even as strong as they are, they are not always strong enough to stay unbroken and whole.

 

“May Morning”

The still pond in its rested state sings
With sun-sparkling glints heralding spring.
Birds land and take off again,
Content whether on the ground or in the air,
As elsewhere women and men hustle through swarming streets
In pursuit of antiquated notions of happiness,
While ancient Buddhas disguised as homeless drunks
Sit against grafittied walls with knowing half-smiles,
Welcoming the warmth of the season.

I welcome the sound of a bird behind me in the Utahan morning
With its owl-like hoots, and I think of the owl,
Seeing in the dark; and myself,
Writing in the pre-dawn darkness.
What owlish spirit soars out of me
When the world is dark with half-remembered dreams?

“Still Seeking”

I sought ecstasy, and ecstasy
Threw me from a tall building
And commanded me to fly.

I sought Grace and Greed
Tortured me with my lack.

I sought more of whatever
Would take me from myself,
And more was granted,
And I was more trapped in ‘I’
Than ever before.

I sought Beauty, and hidden
Loveliness revealed herself
With shy, gentle vulnerability,
And I called her ugly, unfit
To be seen, unworthy.

And it was I who was blind
And not worthy to see,
Not able to perceive,
To discern between,
To see in one, the other;
And in the other, the one.

I sought oneness, and knew
For certain I would always be separate.

I looked deeply at my separation
And the realization of oneness restored me
To my true and undivided self.