By Neel Anil Panicker


The question doesn’t beguile me as much as it
would other people.
That’s because I am always alone but never lonely.
Pretty paradoxical, is that?
Well, let me explain. But first things first.
What is solitude per se? The Oxford Dictionary defines it as a noun: the state of being alone, especially when you find this pleasant.

So, there you have it, straight from the horse’s mouth___ being alone and finding it pleasant.

Well, haven’t I been so all these years of my existence on Planet Earth.
Ever since I can recall, right from the time I was a skinny four year old, I have always been happy in my own skin.

An introvert by nature, I used to find it extremely difficult to open up, to come out of my cocooned shell and meet the world half way.
All through my childhood years and right upto the end of my teenagehood, I have been a very taciturn, shy, closed person who had a lot of trouble opening up.

The very prospect of talking to, meeting, interacting with others was anathema to me and would make me break out in a cold sweat.
As I slipped into my twenties and then began go to slowly push my thirties, I realised that I can’t live an island all my life. I fathomed that were I to steer my ship of life to safe shores, I need to be brave to steer uncharted waters, wander newer and stranger lands, meet and mingle with a wider cross section of people of different hues, gender, race, disposition, intent and drives.

It dawned on me, albeit slowly and admittedly a little late in life that it takes all kinds to fill this world, and that no man or woman is perfect. That we are all beautiful and wonderful and exciting humans because we are full of foibles and follies and that it is our imperfections that make us so human and beautiful.

This was indeed a moment of epiphany for me. This new wisdom has led me to viewing others through a less harsher lens. I have come to terms with the fact that the pursuit  of perfection in humans is an utopian thought best left at that.
Over the years, I have learnt that I can be  in a crowd and still feel lonely and I can be alone and yet not feel lonely.
I must say loneliness has grown on me, and now is second nature.
I am never am alone for I have myself for company.

Still, the question needs to be answered, isn’t it?

So, where do I go when I need solitude?
Yes, it’s true, being human makes us all very vulnerable.
And isn’t it a fact that we are most hurt by those we are close to.
Isn’t it pretty paradoxical that those we love the most and are loved by the most also have the power to hurt us the most.
And don’t they do that, even if it is inadvertently?

So, when so hurt, what do I do?
Simple. I withdraw. Crawl back inside my  protective outer shell, and stay there, hibernating.
Waiting, biding time, patiently meditating  ala Buddha style, trying to regain my equilibrium, my inner mental peace.

And how long do I do that?
Well, it depends. It could as short as 30 minutes to as much as three months, even more.
It all depends on the how deep and how far is the damage that has been wrought.

And then, so rejuvenated, I claw my way out of my shell, stronger, happier, at peace with myself and the world around me.

So, this is my way of maintaining my sanity and finding peace and solitude in a world peopled by increasingly insensitive people.

#neelanilpanicker #nonfiction #philosophy #life #peace #SundayPoser

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