June Musings // Loneliness and Wars Within & Without

Pressed flowers gathered in my backyard, inspired by Emily Dickinson’s Herbarium

The book is not about the war in Ukraine; it is about war as a common disease of the world. It tells children how important it is to not be afraid, to be strong, to stay together with your friends and your people, and to keep hope…


“So much happens inside each one of us. Inside. Within ourselves. There’s an entire cosmos in there. But we barely pay any attention to it. We’re all too busy with the surface, the external stuff… Loneliness is freedom.”

Svetlana Alexeivich, Secondhand Time, 2016

“Hundreds of thousands of people sit in front of their televisions and listen to them like they’re hypnotized. It’s a drug! The terrifying loneliness… the sense of abandonment…. Everyone is terribly lonely.”

Svetlana Alexeivich, Secondhand Time, 2016

“What prepares men for totalitarian domination in the non-totalitarian world is the fact that loneliness, once a borderline experience usually suffered in certain marginal social conditions like old age, has become an everyday experience of the evergrowing masses of our century….
“…. Organized loneliness is considerably more dangerous than the unorganized impotence of all those who are ruled by the tyrannical and arbitrary will of a single man. Its danger is that it threatens to ravage the world as we know it–a world which everywhere seems to have come to an end–before a new beginning rising from this end has had time to assert itself.”

Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, 1979


“To have no one to blame but yourself is to have no one. It’s the worst fate.”

Sofia Samatar, “Meet Me in Iram,”  Tender: Stories, 2017.

“People talked about loneliness as if it were something alive and it could get you. But loneliness is something dead, it’s deadness. Lonely people are slowly dying people. SO ALONE I WISH I WAS DEAD, I once wrote in a notebook, but it wasn’t true. I wished I was alive.”

Sofia Samatar, “Request for an Extension on the Clarity,” Tender: Stories, 2017.


I fear me this—is Loneliness—
The Maker of the soul
It’s Caverns and it’s Corridors
Illuminate—or seal—

Emily Dickinson, from #777, found in “Catherine Barnett on Emily Dickinson,” Poetry Society of America


“The experience of certain feelings can seem particularly pregnant with desire for resolution: loneliness, boredom, anxiety. Unless we can relax with these feelings, it’s very hard to stay in the middle when we experience them. We want victory or defeat, praise or blame. For example, if somebody abandons us, we don’t want to be with that raw discomfort. Instead, we conjure up a familiar identity of ourselves as a hapless victim. Or maybe we avoid the rawness by acting out and righteously telling the person how messed up he or she is. We automatically want to cover over the pain in one way or another, identifying with victory or victimhood.”

Pema Chödrön, “Six Kinds of Loneliness,” Lions Roar, 15 May 2017



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