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From Loneliness to Solitude

The Devil (a first person account

I love to dwell in lonely places
and the desert is one of my favourite haunts.
Strangely it is in apparent loneliness
that I find I am often in good company.
I know very well the difference between loneliness and solitude.
Loneliness seeks the company of the self;
Solitude seeks to dispel the illusion that it exists.
The human mind is not limited by time.
Its cellular structure often gives rise to
a virtual reality in which
the past is either nostalgically recreated
or traumatically dragged into the present,
and the future either enhanced or catastrophized.
Were it not for this, I would have no existence at all.
I exist as the alternative self, conceived in the womb of desire.
“Deception” and “forgetting” are its cornerstones.
The sincere seeker is one who undertakes
to  make that journey from loneliness to solitude.
and it is the desert that is its destination.
Maintaining the state of illusion and amnesia
ensures that it is pre-empted.
Even if against the odds one does make that journey
I have a wry smile since it tastes sweeter
when I succeed in maintaining the illusion
that one has gone to the desert
when all that has done is to step out into one’s own backyard.
Truly, “it is as possible to be a solitary in one's mind
while living in a crowd,
as it is for one who is a solitary
to live in the crowd of his own thoughts”
I wasn’t surprised to see Jesus in the desert.
It wasn’t by accident that I asked him
to turn stones into bread.
‘Using one’s loaf’ is another way of saying
that one must pay attention to one’s thoughts,
allow them to generate images and
create an alternative reality by which one lives.
I felt uncomfortable in his presence;
much easier for me to deal with my projection of him.
I thought I could manipulate him to suit my convenience
My testing him in the desert was in fact
a test of how well my copy measured up to the original.
How well Jesus recognized my motive when he said:
“It is written: ‘you shall not tempt the LORD your God.’
Power, Popularity and Relevance are the tools
I used to “photoshop”  my image of him
It is guaranteed to produce loneliness
because in the end, ‘forgetting’ one’s true identity,
one falls in love with what one has created.
“Like Narcissus, leaning over the spring,
enchanted by his own ugliness,
and then priding himself on having the courage to admit it.”
It also guarantees the impossibility of loving others genuinely
as long as one hesitates to dispel the illusion;
since even when we think we love others,
we are often only loving our projections of them.
It is another way of loving our “selves”
and ultimately a recipe for loneliness.
In the book of Genesis we see Adam and Eve
accustomed to walking with God in the garden
in intimacy and communion with each other
and in the solitude of their own uniqueness.
Paying attention to me, changed all that.
In solitude, one learns to be comfortable with one’s nothingness
One is content to be the drop in the ocean
knowing that the ocean is also present in the drop.
It is nakedness that makes one uncomfortable.
I left Jesus, more miserable than before
but relieved to know that since misery loves company,
it represents my only hope for survival,
and consoled that someone may just choose
to eat bread with me in the desert.

Christopher Mendonca

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