- Rainer Maria Rilke (via indicio)
“I think I’d like to say only that they should learn to be alone and try to spend as much time as possible by themselves. I think one of the faults of young people today is that they try to come together around events that are noisy, almost aggressive at times. This desire to be together in order to not feel alone is an unfortunate symptom, in my opinion. Every person needs to learn from childhood how to spend time with oneself. That doesn’t mean he should be lonely, but that he shouldn’t grow bored with himself because people who grow bored in their own company seem to me in danger, from a self-esteem point of view.”
What immediately struck me upon hearing Tarkovsky’s words is how they contradicted not just the lyrics of The Beach Boys song I’d had on in the background (Don’t Worry, Baby), but also they seemed at odds with my overall instinctual grasp of the situation. After all, it’s not unfair to state that a recommendation that one spend adequate time alone in order to be comfortable with oneself is unexpected advice. What’s more interesting however is that looking around now, 40 years since Tarkovsky said these words, our culture has made it increasingly difficult to find the solitude he recommends at all. The latest advances in technology have filled even those moments when we are physically distanced from people with the constant sense that we have a distracting amount of company. It would be no exaggeration to claim that it’s actually difficult to be by ourselves, nor do we feel like we want to, a situation that the psychologist and MIT social studies professor Sherry Turkle has suggested is more symptomatic of our loneliness than a cure for it. So as Tarkovsky suggests, perhaps despite our social pretensions we are all hiding from ourselves in plain sight.
Life is impossible.