Alone but not lonely
It scares us more than anything except death being alone.
Our fear of aloneness is so ingrained that given the choice of being by ourselves or being with others we opt for safety in numbers, even at the expense of lingering in painful, boring, or totaling unredeeming company. And yet more of us than ever are alone.
While many Americans have their solo lifestyles thrust on them people ,people go away-a huge and growing population is choosing to be alone.
In 1955, one in ten U.S. households consisted of one person. By 1999, the proportion was one in three. Single men and women accounted for 38.9 million of the nation’s 110.5 million households.
By 1999, single parents with children under the age of eighteen made up 27.3 percent of the nation’s 70.9 million family households.
Meanwhile, many more Americans are discovering. In less than three decades, the number of divorced men and women has more than quadrupled- to a total of 18.3 million in 1996, compared to 4.3 million in 1970.
Never before in American history has living alone been the predominant lifestyle.
Nonetheless, we persist in the conviction that a solitary existence Is the harshest penalty life can mete out. We loathe being alone- anytime, anytime, anywhere, for whatever reason. From childhood we’re conditioned to accept that when alone we instinctively ache for company.
Alone, we squander life by rejecting its full potential and wasting its remaining promises. Alone, we accept that experiences unshared are barely worthwhile, that sunsets viewed singly are not as spectacular, that time spent apart is fallow and pointless.
And so we grow old believing we are nothing by ourselves, steadfastly shunning the opportunities for self-discovery and personal growth that solitude could bring us.
We have ever coined a word for hose who prefer to be by themselves: antisocial, as if they were enemies of society. They are viewed as friendless, suspect in a world that goes around in twos or more and is wary of solitary travelers.
People who need people are threatened by people who don’t. The idea of seeking contentment alone is heretical, for society steadfastly decrees that our completeness lies in others. Instead, we cling to each other for solace, comfort, and safety.
Ironically, most of us crave more intimacy and companionship than we can bear. We begrudge ourselves, our spouses, and our partners’ sufficient physical and emotional breathing room, and then bemoan the suffocation of our relationships.
To point out these facts is not to suggest we should abandon all our close ties.
Medical surveys show that the majority of elderly people who live alone, yet maintain frequent contact with relatives and friends, rate their physical and emotional well- being as “excellent”.
Just as an apple a day kept the doctor away when they were young, an active social calendar appears to severe the same purpose now,
But we need to befriend and enjoy ourselves as well.
We must relearn to be alone. Instead of planting our solitude with dream blossoms, we choke the space with continuous music and chatter to which we do not even listen. It is simply there to fill the vacuum. We can’t stand the silence, because silence includes thinking. And if we thought, we would have to face ourselves.
Let us learn, then, from those in search of what they have been able to find and hold: peace of mind, gentles of heart, calmness of spirit, daily joy.
Who have come to understand that to know and to love and to be of value to others , they first must know and love and value themselves; that to find their way in the world, they have to start by finding themselves.
1955年，美国家庭有1/10 的单亲家庭。到1999年，这个比例扩大到1/3.在这个国家里，110 000 000个家庭中单亲家庭占了38 900 000 。
到1999年，带着一个18岁以下小孩的单亲家庭已经占到了这个国家70 900 000 个家庭的27.3%
同时更多的美国人离婚了。不到三十年之间，离婚的人数增加为原来的4倍- 到1996 年这一数字已经达到18 300 000 ，而1970年只有4 300 000人。