Monday, August 10, 2009

Solitude as act…

Solitude as act: the reason no one understands solitude, or bothers to try to understand it, is that it appears to be nothing but a condition. Something one elects to undergo, like standing under a cold shower. Actually, solitude is a realization, an actualization, even a kind of creation, as well as a liberation of active forces within us, forces that are more than our own, and yet more ours that what appears to be “ours”. As a mere condition, solitude can be passive, inert and basically unreal: a kind of permanent coma. One has to work at it to keep out of this condition. One has to work actively at solitude, not by putting fences around oneself but by destroying all the fences and throwing away all the disguises and getting down to the naked root of one’s inmost desire, which is the desire of liberty-reality. To be free from the illusion that reality creates when one is out of right relation to it, and to be real in the freedom which reality gives when one is rightly related to it.

Thomas Merton, Learning to Love, Journals Volume 6, Christine M. Bochen, editor HarperSanFrancisco, 1997, pp. 320-321.

It’s a pity this is too long a text to have printed on a tee-shirt—otherwise it would save a lot of explaining!


Sue said...

Wow! Yes!!

I was *just* thinking before about how much I've been enjoying the past several days and how much of that time has been spent alone. And part of me was thinking I *should* get out more and see other people - of course that part of me saying that is wanting to guard me against that first sort of solitude, the coma variety, the escaping version.

But it's not like that at all, this version that I have been enjoying. This is nothing to do with aloneness or not aloneness. It feels very rich in here.

Great t-shirt haha. I could see someone stopping you from moving away in the supermarket checkout line because they haven't finished reading it yet :)

Jamie Arpin-Ricci said...

Great quote. I have a collection of Merton waiting to be read, but I keep putting it off. Excerpts like this help me move it forward.