page contents

ESSAY / In Defense of Solitude / Aaron J. Como


The silence is deafening, if not defeating.

I am not defeated.

Yet there is the razor thin difference in between.

A/Lone v. Lonely.  The battle rages.

I need to be alone, sometimes.  The noise of everything, of you, is a cacophony of chaos that tears at me.  It threatens to tear me into pieces. 

Not all of the time.  But sometimes.

I’ll watch and wonder how they can sit there, day after day, looking at their faces, looking at my face.  I’ll wonder how they can hear their voices and hear my voice and not be driven mad. 

I’ll look in the mirror and stare at my face.  I’ll listen to my voice.  I am driven mad.

But only sometimes and then I need to be alone.  Does not everyone need to be alone, sometimes?

It should seem so, but seemingly it does not.

So to not be lonely I’ll need to be alone.  I need to be a/lone and to extricate myself from all of it and all of them and of you.  If I’m too long without being alone the webs threaten to tangle and knot until I must cut them.  I’ll cut at them roughly and violently and the threads will be jagged and hard to repair.

Let me alone.  But don’t leave.  I’ll be lonely.  

Understand the difference.  I’m trying to explain it to them, and to you.

.  ***

A/Lone is: ok.  

It’s peace.

It’s healing.

It’s empowering.

It’s a recharge.  Let it sit – let me sit and think about it.  I need to sort it out and leave it be.  I’ll come back to it and to them and to you if I can push it away and look at it from a distance.

A/Lone is refreshing.  I’m rebuilt and rested.  It’s refilling.  It’s not quite, but it’s close to fulfillment, when I am alone.

Alone is on a lake in a boat.  The sun is high and it warms but is not too hot.  The ripples of the water gently bob the boat.  The oars are in and I float and think of everything until I think of nothing at all.  I’m just me then, and I can let it melt away for a while.

Alone is nestled in the nook of a long branch of a tree.  The branch spreads out over the water.  The ducks swim by and the tiny frogs hop on the muddy shore beneath. Tiny white bugs skitter over the surface like stars in the sky until the fish leap towards the surface to gobble at them.

It’s sitting on the roof and staring at the night sky, far enough to see the stars but close enough to hear the sounds of the city and to be comforted by both. A/lone, but together.

Alone is as simple as the car ride to and fro listening to music and singing at the top of my lungs without anyone to hear and without anyone to judge.  Alone is a long hot shower.  Alone is a walk, brisk or plodding, to plot the next course for later – in the day, the month or forever.

Alone is weeping, but with joy.

To be alone too long is lonely.  I come back – I always return.  But they, and you are not always waiting when I do.

Lonely is: sad.

It’s full of resentment, of them and you.  But of myself, too.

It aches. It tears, a tearing from the inside out. It’s out and gets all over everything, them and you.

Lonely is pulling the covers over my head and staying in bed all day.  It’s forlorn and self-pity.  It’s self-hate that turns to hate.

Lonely is sobbing with heartache.  It’s being apart even when together.  Even when together, lonely is apart from them and from you.  It tears me apart until there are only parts of my self left, left scattered.

Alone is exile but with a return date.

Lonely is adrift with no guarantee.

Alone is self-imposed.

Lonely is self-imposed but also not, one leading the other in either order in a cycle, becoming vicious.

To be unmade!  To be disabled and unable!  To undo and then redo!

To be undone without ending!  To be undone without pain/sorrow/hurt or hurting!   

To strip down to the very naked parts and to become whole again by subtracting from the sum total of my parts and be put together again.

This is to be alone!  To leave, but to return!  Sometimes better, but at least not worse.

To be lonely without end is the end, so let me be alone.  But don’t leave me alone.


Solitude as a defense, both healing and destructive, the gap between thin and navigated carefully, for the space between is fraught with danger.

Aaron J. Como is a writer from Milwaukee, WI. His work had appeared in magazines such as Drunk Monkeys, Red Fez, Five to One, The Creative Truth and The Write Launch. Find him on twitter @aaronjcomo