There is a fundamental human need for companionship, for a sympathetic ear, for reassurance, for hearing our feelings and sentiments echoed back, for touching and being touched. Being alone is sensory deprivation, slow torture, and our souls cry out for the company of a kindred spirit, for the comfort that only a friend can give, for someone who can fill the emptiness, who can share the isolated moments of our existence.

Loneliness weakens the spirit. It consumes our strength and dims our inner flame. It tempts us to wallow in self-pity, to descend into a kind of gloomy rapture, depressed and paralyzed, yet at the same time glorying in our misery, suffering proudly in our own private hell. For all that, loneliness is a state of mind, a sickness of the soul rather than an external condition, and it is entirely within our power to fight it, and perhaps work toward healing it.

Resisting loneliness is more than simply a matter of "keeping busy", of immersing yourself in so many activities that you have no time to reflect on your sad state. It involves following your interests, improving your skills, developing yourself as a multifaceted individual. It means going out and meeting people, making contacts, learning to survive in a social context. It means living your dream, not at some future time when you might finally be in a relationship, but NOW.

Aloneness is the riddle we must solve in order to be worthy of the companionship of others, and therein lies the central paradox of being alone - that it can either ennoble, or degrade. The essential difference between aloneness and loneliness is the anguish, the acute hunger for contact that the lonely suffer. Could we but consider solitude a necessary journey of discovery, a crisis that may ultimately purify and strengthen us, then we would emerge from this Dark Night of the Soul uplifted and exalted, more fully realized as a person. Once comfortable in our own company, reconciled to the austere beauty of silence, of privacy, of total self-sufficiency, only then can we travel onward and explore the horizons of interaction, of exchange, or binding with our fellow humans.

"...the thinking man is driven... to long desperately for some quiet place where he can reason undisturbed and take inventory."
Richard Byrd, Alone