There are no strangers to loneliness, after all we have all experienced how to be lonely at some point in our lives. Thomas Dumm recognizes this fact and delves on what it really means lonely in his book “Loneliness as a Way of Life”.
According to the Harvard University Press, Dumm “takes us beyond social circumstances and into the deeper forces that shape our very existence as modern individuals. The modern individual, Dumm suggests, is fundamentally a lonely self. This book challenges us, not to overcome our loneliness, but to learn how to re-inhabit it in a better way.”
This takes me back to one of my favorite poet’s work – Letters to a Young Poet (Letter Number Six). There Rainer Maria Rilke tells us to embrace solitude and why. Here’s a snippet from letter # 6:
But when you notice that it [solitude] is vast, you should be happy; for what (you should ask yourself) would a solitude be that was not vast; there is only one solitude and it is vast, heavy, difficult to bear…be attentive to what is arising within you…What is happening in your most innermost self is worthy of your entire love; somehow you must find a way to work at it…
And letter #8:
So you mustn’t be frightened, dear Mr. Kappus, if a sadness rises in front of you, larger than any you have ever seen; if an anxiety, like light and cloud-shadows, moves over your hands and over everything you do. You must realize that something is happening to you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand and will not let you fall.
Now if ever there was an expert in loneliness I would say that would be Rainer Maria Rilke.