There is a subtle state most dedicated urban walkers know,

a sort of basking in solitude – a dark solitude punctuated with encounters as the night sky is punctuated with stars. In the country one’s solitude is geographical – one is altogether outside of society, so solitude has a sensible geographical explanation, and then there is a kind of communion with the nonhuman. In the city, one is alone because the world is made up of strangers, and to be a stranger surrounded by strangers, to walk along silently bearing one’s secrets and imagining those of the people one passes, is among the starkest of luxuries. This uncharted identity with its illimitable possibilities is one of the distinctive qualities of urban living, a liberatory state for those who come to emancipate themselves from family and community expectation, to experiment with subculture and identity. It is an observer’s state, cool, withdrawn, in with senses sharpened, a good state for anybody who needs to reflect or create. In small doses melancholy, alienation, and introspection are among life’s most refined pleasures. (186)

The Solitary Stroller and the City, Rebecca Solnit

{x}

The Eagle and the Mole

Avoid the reeking herd,
Shun the polluted flock,
Live like that stoic bird,
The eagle of the rock.

The huddled warmth of crowds
Begets and fosters hate;
He keeps above the clouds
His cliff inviolate.

When flocks are folded warm,
And herds to shelter run,
He sails above the storm,
He stares into the sun.

If in the eagle’s track
Your sinews cannot leap,
Avoid the lathered pack,
Turn from the steaming sheep.

If you would keep your soul
From spotted sight or sound,
Live like the velvet mole:
Go burrow underground.

And there hold intercourse
With roots of trees and stones,
With rivers at their source,
And disembodied bones.

– Elinor Wylie

the words ‘alone’, ‘lonely’ and ‘loneliness’

are three of the most powerful words in the english language. those words say that we are human; they are like the words hunger and thirst. but they are not words about the body, they are words about the soul…

…there is an entire world inside yourself, and if you let yourself, you can get so deep inside it, you will forget the way to the surface. other people keep our souls alive, just like food and water does with our body.

– attributed to Don Miller
{x}