Teaching our children to be alone…
‘All man’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.’ ~ Blaise Pascal
Several comments in the article quoted in the previous post remind of Pascal’s famous quote about the miseries of not being able to be alone. In that New York Times article, Sherry Turkle suggests that
Lacking the capacity for solitude, we turn to other people but don’t experience them as they are. It is as though we use them, need them as spare parts to support our increasingly fragile selves.
We think constant connection will make us feel less lonely. The opposite is true. If we are unable to be alone, we are far more likely to be lonely. If we don’t teach our children to be alone, they will know only how to be lonely.
The philosopher James Garvey also reflects on the dilemma of being alone in a post at The Philosophers’ Magazine Blog:
Doing nothing is a kind of nightmare for most of us. When we have no distractions — no phones or Ipods or books to read, no pretty things to want or otherwise catch our attention — we fall into boredom very quickly, and for some of us it hurts. Why that should be is an interesting question which doesn’t get much attention. Some speculate that boredom is living in raw time, being in the moment, feeling the full weight of mortality and the horrible, horrible passage of time. If it is all that, then it’s at least an authentic way to be, a way of facing up to the way things are.
You might try it. Turn off your phone, unplug your head, switch everything off for a while and see what you get.