Alone. What do you think of when you hear this word? What images appear in your mind? What images come to mind when someone who describes themselves with this word? What do you think when someone or a friend describes someone else with this word? What do you think if they describe you with this word?

Lonely. Do the same ideas or images come to mind? Do you equate the two words for someone described with the word alone? Do you know the difference between being alone and being lonely?

Solitude. What images come to mind with this word? Do you imagine the other two words to describe or understand this word? Do you know the difference in the three?

Alone is a state of being. Lonely is a feeling. Solitude is a situation. To many, they're synonymous, and they're badly mistaken and sadly wrong.

A friend recently sent me the book, Anneli Rufus' book, "A Party of One." It's not just a book for people who feel alone, it's very much a book for the opposite people, those who fear being alone, and for those who think being alone is socially incorrect. It is, however, focused on people comfortable being alone, and that's the crux of the book. It's ok, and in fact normal, to be alone. There simply are people who are alone, and not or never lonely.

They're among us, walking, talking, socializing, working, being, doing, everything everyone does in life. They just prefer to go through life being alone with few close friends and fewer loved ones in their life. They're not uncomfortable, dissatisfied, and so on with life or the world around, they're quite normal, as everyone else. You can't tell them from anyone else, even by their public behavior, and only by their private life. And those that don't understand, those than fear being alone, equate it with feeling lonely, and equate it with solitude, don't see the importance of it.

In her book, Anneli points out that art requires being alone. No one writes in a crowd, although J.K. Rowling wrote much of the early Harry Potter books in a pub; they write within themselves. And other artist are alone for much of their artistic creations, only using teams when it's essential to the production, but even when they in the group, they're still alone in their work. And as anyone can attest, photography by committee is ugly, no photographer asks for help composing or producing their images. They're the only ones behind the cameras when the shutter is released.

No one doubts humans evolved to be a social species, but also there is no doubt that people can be alone in the group, still be social for the group, and still contribute in their aloneness. Almost all of the imagination throughout human history came from people described as alone, we are critical to the survival of the race in our contributions through the arts, science, ideas, and being.

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WSR V2.8, January 2013