Is there a difference between "aloneness" and "loneliness"? Leo Buscaglia thinks so. He says that when we think of being lonely, we think of being alone. So we search for ways to avoid being alone, in order to fix our feeling of loneliness.
This doesn't work. If the thought of being alone makes us scared, being with others isn't going to make that fear go away. It's not going to solve our loneliness.
"One can be alone and never feel loneliness, and conversely, one can feel lonely even when he is among people."
"Modern man is so much a part of a crowd that he's suffering a personal loneliness."
Basically, we don't know how to enjoy the company of ourselves. We don't have time to reflect, think, dream, breathe. And when we do, we don't know what to do with it. We're so accustomed to not having a relationship with ourselves, that we don't know what to do when we have ourselves for company.
And when we have this personal loneliness, having people around won't solve it. Instead, we'll be lonely among friends.
My question to you is this: Is part of spiritual maturation learning how to be alone and not be lonely? Is being in a good relationship with ourselves the solution to creating strong relationships with others? And becoming a person who doesn't need relationships, but who enjoys them and welcomes them readily into his life?