Since we’re all supposed to keep our distance from each other, I want to recommend a book by Anthony Storr: The title hit me: Solitude: A Return to the Self. Wow! You need to be alone to gain a real sense of who you are? Interesting idea.
The fact is that we often have a wobbly sense of who we are. Human identity is fragile and necessarily elastic. It’s so easy to lose the thread of yourself with others when they ignore, criticize, belittle, project, exaggerate, or misunderstand you. Sometimes you have to pull back and look upon the world—and yourself—with a cold eye.
Storr argues we can never fully rely on others for self-affirmation even when they affirm us. We have to forge our own identity.
He examines situations where the solitude is forced on us. Thanks to the pandemic, we know what that feels like. Storr writes about being alone in prison. There are many examples in history of incarcerated men and women who gained spiritual illumination or were inspired to write great letters, pamphlets, and books while alone in prison. The main point: in solitude we’re more likely to discover who we really are at the deepest levels of our being. I guess it depends on what experiences you have. Anybody?
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