At Christmas time, we want to come together and share, which inevitably leads to the evocation of those of us who are alone, some by choice, some by obligation. Solitude is good or bad depending on the individual, time of life, or the context in which it is experienced. Moreover, it is not always easy to talk about it because the words themselves seem to hesitate a bit about its meaning. The English language distinguishes quite well the quality of two states of mind with “loneliness” and “solitude” *. In French, “solitude” is opposed to “isolement”, the second concept emphasising “being lonely”. “Se sentir seul” (to feel alone), by contrast, is a state very clearly that we will seek to avoid, while “être seul ” (being alone) can be experienced in different ways. The “lonely”, (le solitaire) often likes to live alone (at least in French).
For me, solitude is usually a very positive state, because it is generally once that is chosen and lived as a privilege giving me the opportunity to bring me back to what is important. Whatever the circumstances, however, some places are for me particularly conducive to solitude and the sea (the Atlantic or the Pacific) is one of those.
* Paul Tillich has said in this regard that “language… created the word” loneliness “to express the pain of being alone and created the word “solitude” to express the glory of being alone”.