jeudi 24 mars 2011

SOLITUDE IS NOT LONELINESS


HOW SOLITUDE SHAPES YOUR CONSCIOUSNESS

This is a continuation of my previous post:

Network in Social Network

Occasionally, an email arrives inviting to join Face Book or some of the other social networks popular in Asia. In countries like Myanmar and Iran where there is restriction of freedom, the blocked websites including blogspot.com is overcome with ingenious anti-filters. In these countries as well as in countries where there is little freedom to express social relationships, like in India or Malays in Malaysia, Indonesia, then the social networking plays a very important social role, which would impose a certain moral reform on the future generations of those countries. (Many similar countries in this world)

An excerpt from an article on Loneliness published by Boston Globe recently and annotated by Arts and Literature Daily:

“There’s so much cultural anxiety about isolation in our country that we often fail to appreciate the benefits of solitude,” said Eric Klinenberg, a sociologist at New York University whose book “Alone in America,” in which he argues for a reevaluation of solitude, will be published next year. “There is something very liberating for people about being on their own. They’re able to establish some control over the way they spend their time. They’re able to decompress at the end of a busy day in a city...and experience a feeling of freedom.”

Figuring out what solitude is and how it affects our thoughts and feelings has never been more crucial. The latest Census figures indicate there are some 31 million Americans living alone, which accounts for more than a quarter of all US households. And at the same time, the experience of being alone is being transformed dramatically, as more and more people spend their days and nights permanently connected to the outside world through cellphones and computers. In an age when no one is ever more than a text message or an e-mail away from other people, the distinction between “alone” and “together” has become hopelessly blurry, even as the potential benefits of true solitude are starting to become clearer.

John Cacioppo of the University of Chicago, whose 2008 book “Loneliness” with William Patrick summarized a career’s worth of research on all the negative things that happen to people who can’t establish connections with others, said recently that as long as it’s not motivated by fear or social anxiety, then spending time alone can be a crucially nourishing component of life. And it can have some counterintuitive effects: Adam Waytz in the Harvard psychology department, one of Cacioppo’s former students, recently completed a study indicating that people who are socially connected with others can have a hard time identifying with people who are more distant from them. Spending a certain amount of time alone, the study suggests, can make us less closed off from others and more capable of empathy — in other words, better social animals.

“People make this error, thinking that being alone means being lonely, and not being alone means being with other people,” Cacioppo said. “You need to be able to recharge on your own sometimes. Part of being able to connect is being available to other people, and no one can do that without a break.”

When I receive an invitation from someone who has 326 friends, I really am not appreciative of that invitation since I know that number is fictitious. No one is able to have that many friends. I have written another blog, which quotes research to say, 8 to 12 (women slightly more) good friends and about 100 acquaintances are what our brain can handle physically!

When is the time to read? Catch up on the news? Who won the Man Booker Asia Prize this year? (Bi Feiyu: Three Sisters. China). India’s corruption. Japan’s humility in the face of Earthquake. Have you read this week’s The Economist? New York Times? Libya Yemen Bahrain Southern Syria Oman Hamas Iran sending arms to Hezbollah

The world is a very interesting place and it is only interesting if you give keen attention to it. You can live without everything if you wish to do so, but is it to be called Living?

I also like technology: mac os snow leopard, iPod touch, iPhone 4, soon an ipad, sim cards from at least six different countries, Skype. But I do carry a travelogue by Norman Lewis, or a story about Maqroll by Alvaro Mutis, an inspirational analysis by Jefe Comandante. I like to be in touch, but with rare exceptions, not in constant touch with every one I know. Happy to get emails from friends, with rare exceptions, it does not have to be every day.

If you don't know enough about the world, but only in detail about Fulano and Fulana living in another country through Facebook, would you devote any time on voluntary/humanitarian work to help them? There is so much untapped talent in USA alone but how can someone with a keen heart from Kansas or Ohio help someone living in Mozambique if he or she does not know where or WHAT is Mozambique? (An African American graduate student at FIU in Miami asked me: what is Mozambique?)

Technology will eliminate poverty, a wag proclaimed at the beginning of 20th century. It did not happen. The world is a global village; there would be peace and understanding, the backers of 21st century technology exalted, it is not happening. Technology is exciting, but it has also exported Diabetes to poorer countries, when you think about it, rather than eradicating Diabetes as a disease.

I hold the great satisfaction of the memories of the Gifts of Time I have received and given, people who made special efforts to come and see me when I needed their visit or the visits to various countries on this planet to be with friends. I travel, because I have friends and I enjoy the solitude of travel. Perhaps that is why you will not see me on a Cruise ship or a Group travel. Even to places as remote as Tsumkwe! In Namibia, I rather go by myself or at best with a good friend, not an organized tour group, which is not for me.

I think of the various friends who have given me the time of their lives: in Kuala Lumpur, in Havana, in London and in Kingston, in Miami, in Melbourne. In fact it is these visits that make the place for me, endears the travel there… and smaller places Cochin, Yangon, Baracoa…

So what have been my travels to spend time with friends in the past few months?

December 2010 Kuala Lumpur

January and February Miami and Havana

March London Texas

April Vancouver Bellingham Seattle Portland

May Dubai? Phnom Penh?

I fervently hope, for more places and more friends to visit…

The distance between Miami and Kuala Lumpur is?

Distance from Miami to Kuala Lumpur: 10461 Miles

(16835.3 Kilometers / 9084.3 Nautical Miles)

In December 2010, I left Miami on the morning of 1st

Stayed overnight in SF and connected to Tokyo, changed planes to Singapour, stayed at the airport for a few hours and caught a flight to Kuala Lumpur arriving there at

0745 on the morning of 4th. Who was waiting for me at the airport? My Best friend in Asia, I had gone to see her!