For the majority of human beings, friendship and socialisation are vital experiences, necessary and enjoyable activities that ease the desperate aloneness of existence and help illuminate the fearful shadows that hover unnervingly beyond immediate sight – those wandering existential ghosts of our psychic-peripheral vision. For these many humans there is a type of safety-in-numbers equation, where the company of fellows and the joyous interaction provided effectively softens the edges of their sometimes morbid and beastly minds and grants them some genuine relief from its aggressive cyclic-ramblings. The nearness and companionship of others keeps the wolves of doubt, fear and crisis temporarily at bay, providing much needed solace from themselves and their ceaseless self-centred meditations.
We will assume this is a good thing – or at least not a bad thing – for it is the way it is, which for most people is more positive than negative. But what of the souls who aren’t of this breed? What of the outsiders, the outcasts, the hermits, the deranged, the damaged, the dysfunctional or the plain reclusive? Of what solace is there for us? Well, once one discovers that there is an inverse reality available, one that has as many rewards when adhered to, there is indeed much solace to be found.
‘Hell is the others’, Sartre’s famous and often mistranslated quote may not have been intended as a catch-phrase for all outsiders, rag-tag shut-ins and recluses, but it nonetheless stands as a powerfully relevant foundation-stone upon which one can build a rewarding and isolated existence. It’s been often said that ‘misery loves company’, for some of us it could be more accurately stated, ‘happiness needs none’, such is the satisfaction and joy of isolation and self-willed social non-conformity.
Perhaps the hardest thing for anyone to accept is the entirety of oneself, but then there is no other task so urgent and important as this. It is truly a thing of sublime beauty and profundity to stand wherever one is and proclaim to one’s internal keeper, ‘I am myself, no more and no less. No other wonder shall I more faithfully seek’. After all, to live well in one’s own skin is to fully inhabit an endless and joyful peace.