“In solitude where we are least alone ” Byron
The OED definition of solitude is the state of being alone. Alone is defined as 1. on your own 2. isolated and lonely.
The plural, solitudes, was formerly used when describing wilderness, backwoods, deserts or indeed any large area containing very few people.
The synonyms for solitude include loneliness, solitariness, isolation, seclusion, privacy and peace.
I spend quite a lot of time at home in solitude but I am just on my own, not isolated or lonely. I have privacy, insofar as I am not seen by other people, but I am frequently disturbed by the telephone ringing so I rarely have peace. I enjoy this solitude at home because I choose to have it; once the vital jobs are done it gives me the opportunity to think through problems, often whilst working in the garden, and to write creatively.
Most of the time I spend in a car is spent in solitude; hurtling along confined in this small space is a very different experience because there is constant interaction with the rest of the traffic but it is still a solitary experience. Conversely I can sit in a crowded train carriage or café and have solitude; human isolation in crowded places is common in 21st Century society. Occasionally someone will smile or speak to you but generally you can settle into your seat and be assured that you will be completely ignored.
I find these periods of solitude an enjoyable and therapeutic part of my life; what I struggle to comprehend is how anyone endures the solitude of long-term enforced “solitary confinement” whether caused by kidnap, lawful imprisonment or disability.