Man is born free but everywhere he is chained. In the present day democratic set up of the world the chain is the invisible chain of loneliness or isolation. Mental isolation or ‘loneliness’ is undoubtedly the worst curse or tragedy of a man’s life. It is painful because it is contrary to Nature’s laws. In every aspect of Nature, there is a symmetry or coherence. Even the very atom of a matter is built on the principle of ‘coexistence of heterogeneous characters’. Every biotic element requires inter and intra exchange of feelings amongst its own surroundings. In case of man it is of paramount importance, because of all animals only man possesses the passion or intelligence to think and feel. Man cannot live by bread alone. He has to satisfy his mental or emotional needs in addition to physical ones. Man also requires conveying his ideas or thoughts to his fellow being. For this inevitably irresistible reason man has been living in societies; created languages and has built a rich civilization. The primitive ‘Clans’ have become big cities of the Postmodern global villages of the 21st century. In reverse manner it can be said that Man’s total achievement is the outcome of his desire to overcome the curse of ‘Isolation’ or ‘Loneliness’.
But it is a matter of regret that instead of gaining victory over this in-born enemy, man has become its worst prey even in the midst of pomp and glory. The isolation of human mind increased proportionately with his materialistic and intellectual prosperity. Materialism of the last 150 years has given man almost all ingredients to enjoy life, to live in pleasure and comfort; but the pursuit of materialism has made man more and more isolated or lonely in the contrary. For this reason even after possessing Mass-media, electronic goods, computers & internets, television etc. man is as lonely as his prehistoric forefathers.
In today’s world loneliness are of various natures. Apart from the prisoners and lunatics who are segregated by the law of the country, there are Old age homes which are voluntarily accepted by modern people as their last resort to overcome the burden of loneliness. Bacon said long ago, “A crowd is not a company”. So it is easily discernable that even a celebrity or glamorous personality living amidst millions of admirers or followers may be an extreme sufferer of loneliness. (The tragic end of Michael Jackson may be mentioned) A man may be surrounded by hundreds of people but his condition may be as tragic as Alexander Selkirk, Robinson Crusoe or Clara Copperfield. Of these the first two fought against the circumstantial adversity and won but Clara ,living amongst her near and dear one’s became a patient of ‘Melancholia’ and ultimately died a miserable death.
Acute loneliness causes depression and ruins or kills the victim ultimately. A victim of loneliness becomes addicted to drugs or antisocial activities and may even commit suicide. In a word it can be called a silent killer—physical as well as moral.
But is loneliness or mental isolation really a curse? Is it really a killer? Is it a bane? Let’s try to see the other side of the coin:
If we ponder over the matter in a positive manner then we would get the revelation of enormous hidden potentiality in mental isolation or loneliness. It would appear a boon having multi-colour and varied potentiality. It provides man to work according to his own desire and satisfy his creative instincts. If viewed positively then it would appear that the real pleasure of life remains only in isolation. Leaving the cases of the ancient sages apart, we would discover that it is very easy to achieve anything in an isolated state of mind. Isolation provides more time which means more creativity. Isolation provides liberty to think individually, to see everything in their real colour. It also frees man from the fear of losing anything. It helps strengthening one’s moral courage and develops indomitable spirit in man. It makes a man dauntless optimist too.
Man’s eternal pursuit in this world is to be happy. But most of us meet the opposite because we do not know how to approach it. “We look before and after and pine for what is not”; and suffer eternal misery as a consequence. As the end is a very lofty and covetous so the means are wrongly exercised causing catastrophic results. Mental isolation may create this awareness in the mind of the sufferer and thus provide him the right realization or the key to happiness.
Again, it is only in isolation a man can do self criticism. He understands the merits of a good act and demerits of a bad one. This realization causes purification of one’s soul and thus helps him to regain his mental strength. Thus it can be said that the proper use of Isolation ultimately helps a man to regain his self-respect and self-confidence which are the secret strength of a man to do miracles out of nothing.
Mental isolation or loneliness indirectly provides a man the plan for future happiness. He can cast off his sordid experiences like bad dreams and prepare himself for a new beginning. In this regard the case of Napoleon and Jawaharlal Nehru may be mentioned as examples. But in order to obtain this, a man has to discipline his mind first. He should take recourse to his favourite hobbies like listening music or study good literature. Tagore’s inspirational songs are very helpful for moral boosting while Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear, Julius Caesar are relevant studies to the mentioned perspective.
Man may try to realize the power of soul like the realization of Robinson Crusoe and fill his life with dedicated works all the time. He should not allow his mind to indulge in frustrating thoughts.
In the hour of loneliness a man may make Tagore’s song “Walk alone, Walk alone; if nobody responses to your call”, his mantra for overcoming the imposed burden of loneliness.
Meditation also helps enormously to fight the evil of loneliness.
If a man follows all these things then in course of time he would obviously derive the Midas like capacity to make everything gold whatever he touches. Thus loneliness or isolation would become a boon in disguise in stead of a deadly bane.
Associate Professor in the Dept. of English, Sapatgram, Sapatgram, Assam.