I love reading Toni Bernhard's book, How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and their Caregivers
I find it a friendly and reassuring companion when fatigue or pain assert themselves a little too strongly and compromise the activities of the day. I was never as social as Toni but there are still times when I'm on my own for longer than I would like. I do well with my own company but sometimes I can feel shut off, especially if there are family or Amida events that I'd love to be part of but just can't get to.
One day, a friend I'd met online, sent me this quotation from the theologian, Paul Tillich:
"Language...has created the word 'loneliness' to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the world 'solitude' to express the glory of being alone."
I was such a social animal that I found being alone anything but glorious. It wasn't even remotely sweet. But Tillich's words planted a seed and I began to investigate the meaning of "being alone." I realized that being alone in and of itself is neither positive nor negative. It was just a fact that now described a good portion of my life. If Tillich was right, it could be experienced as painful loneliness or as glorious solitude.