Wednesday, October 27

Like ‘Robinson Crusoe of Italy’, many of us yearn for the idea of ​​solitude, even after the confinement | Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

IIt was moving to read the decision of 81-year-old Mauro Morandi to leave Budelli, the island off Sardinia that had been his home for more than 30 years, after receiving eviction threats. He had been dubbed “the Robinson Crusoe of Italy,” having ended up there simply by chance, after his catamaran broke down while trying to sail to the South Pacific. The island keeper was retiring, and Morandi loved the place so much that she decided to stay and take on the role; up to now.

There is something so sad about listening to a person torn from their idyll, when they have sought and built for themselves a life of solitude. While we may not all be hermits by nature, I think many of us understand that, for some people, constant social interaction can be exhausting and even painful, a source of anxiety rather than pleasure. Books like Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talk, and a better understanding of neurodiversity, have led to greater empathy over the past decade with those who need more of their own company and are feeling stressed. By environments of constant socialization or overstimulation, such as open-plan offices.

Some people just respond differently to social situations, and that doesn’t mean that introverts reject all forms of dialogue with others. Engaging in art while alone, for example, is still a form of communication. As Susan Cain, author of Quiet, writes: “Private occasions … make me feel connected to the joys and sorrows of the world, often in the form of communication with writers and musicians that I will never meet in person.”

He feels that it has become more acceptable to be something of a loner, that the natural hermits among us face fewer unpleasant stereotypes than before. The lock may have helped in this, or it may not. I have heard many people say that they identified as introverts, until they were forced to stay home alone for weeks and months during the pandemic. It made them realize how much they depended on social connection for their well-being. Perhaps there will be a backlash against loneliness.

Loneliness and loneliness are, of course, different things. Throughout human history there have been those who yearned for loneliness and its spiritual and psychological benefits. Some speak of it in miraculous terms. Christopher Knight, the man who withdrew from society in his 20s and lived in the forests and valleys of Maine for 27 years, said that “loneliness increased my perception. But here’s the trick: when I applied my higher insight to myself, I lost my identity. There was no audience, no one to act. There was no need to define myself. I became irrelevant. “This removal of identity was not, he said, a bad thing.” My desires faded. I yearned for nothing. I didn’t even have a name. To put it romantically, I was completely free. “

While not that extreme, the crashes of the past year have given us plenty of time to reflect on how much social interaction we want in our lives once things open up again. Some have flourished in solitude and others have felt unbearably lonely, spending months without human contact. Others who previously depended on periods of loneliness have found themselves in constant company. This was the situation in which I found myself; I was used to having the place to myself for hours and hours, to write and think, I had come to believe that I needed it to function. If you had told me a year ago that I could work and exist perfectly well with another person in the house constantly, and also with a cat in need, I would not have believed you. We have all had to adapt. It has taught me the kind of balance that I would like in the future.

That said, I still long for solitude. Before the Covid, my periods of loneliness were always marked by episodes of “extreme socialization” at night; Now I feel exhausted with the thought. What I really need is a week on my own, to read, write, listen to records and sit in the garden. Even better, a forest. Needed forest loneliness, German word that means “the feeling of being alone in the forest”. Or take me to Budelli where I can swim from a pink beach! It sounds like heaven.

Basically, I need the solitude that my mother and grandmother and millions of others have forced them into for months. I realize that the others will not be categorically where I am, psychologically: they will be preparing for an incredible party. I wouldn’t be surprised if this year didn’t see another summer of love. I am looking forward to it; You might even have a birthday party, but only after a short period with as much loneliness as you can find first, an early refill.

I wonder how many social misunderstandings will arise as a result of the different levels of loneliness that we yearn for. Some will be hurt if they decline your invitations; It seems contradictory that, after a period of forced isolation, some are not prepared for a packed calendar. It’s generally the loudest and most outgoing who tend to win, but empathy should flow both ways. I see summer as an experiment, from which, hopefully, we will come out with a hangover, but with a better idea of ​​the kind of social life we ​​want.

As for Morandi, he will move to a larger and more populated island, where he will live on the outskirts of the main city. “I’ll just go shopping there and the rest of the time I’ll stay to myself,” he said. “My life will not change too much, I will still see the sea.”

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