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Alone - A Life-Giving Definition

Updated: Aug 1, 2023

I'm making a little book provisionally titled Just So Many Words: A Dictionary of Life-Giving Definitions. The premise of the book is that no definition can ever ultimately be right, so why not use definitions that are the most helpful? I offer a candidate for the word alone below, and I welcome your thoughts in the comments below that.


…is the opposite of lonely. It is our true nature. We are each the sole monarch of a kingdom. This kingdom is our experience. Our unique experience. An experience that cannot ultimately be shared with anyone else.

There are rules we have agreed to share with other kings and queens. Gravity, for example, and the other laws of physics. But all other laws, we decide on. Our thoughts are the laws of our realm. The more often we think them, the more we strengthen their enforcement. If I tell myself money must come hard, so be it. If I believe I deserve love, so be it. Will I borrow the legal code of a neighboring kingdom or write my own? (Most people borrow the codes of their neighbors, who themselves have borrowed the codes from their neighbors, and so on.) Will I make my kingdom a battleground or a playground? (Most make their kingdoms a battleground, fighting their own desires in endless civil wars.)

Our essential aloneness is, whether we acknowledge it or not. When we deny it, we relate to other people from a flawed premise: the idea that, at a fundamental level, others can harm or merge with us. We see others as either potential threats or potential panaceas. When we believe an invasion is possible, we become paranoid, defensive, and hostile. When we believe sharing all our experiences with another is possible, we become needy, disappointed, and resentful. In either case, we feel separate. We call this loneliness.

In truth, no one can make us feel bad without our permission, and no one can completely—or even mostly—share our experience. Expressing feelings of loneliness can help us feel connected. But loneliness can become a way of life if we believe the ultimate cure lies with another person. We then feel ourselves to be beggars, knocking on the doors of other people’s castles. We may feel we must endlessly describe our suffering to gain sympathy, so others will toss us some crumbs. The crumbs may keep us going from one day to the next. But most of the world is addicted to the begging.

When we acknowledge our royal aloneness, it becomes a royal fullness—a garden that blossoms and teems with fruit. We become self-sufficient. This self-sufficiency provides the ground on which we can most authentically meet our fellow kings and queens. Standing firm in our royal splendor, we can appreciate and learn from the splendor of others. Not only do we enjoy the fruits of our own realm, but we get invited to the banquets of our fellow kings and queens. We serve those who are begging not by haughtily tossing them a few crumbs, but by the example of our royal happiness.

Paradoxically, our aloneness banishes loneliness by allowing us a sense of connection to others by royal blood.


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1 Comment

Julia Doubravszky
Julia Doubravszky
Jul 24, 2023

" Expressing feelings of loneliness can help us feel connected. But loneliness can become a way of life if we believe the ultimate cure lies with another person." So true.

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