The Solitude Among Many

by Fernando Perfas

Harbor view during an early morning | Photo by Moyan Brenn via Wikimedia Commons

We live in a crowded world, clattered and noisy, and yet loneliness is pervasive. In this information age, everything is within reach. All it takes is a click on a cellphone, and one gets connected with anyone almost anywhere in the world or gets answers from Google or Alexa about most things one wants to know. And yet, we struggle to be truly connected with people and feel as alienated as ever.

Sometimes the electronic gadgets that help people live more efficiently create more distance between people. It is not uncommon to witness families engaged not in a conversation but with their digital gadgets while waiting for orders to come in restaurants. We scrapped writing love letters for messenger posts with emoji, or we chat instead of talk. The most personal aspects of life have become increasingly impersonal and distant. Most intimate things require effort and presence, but we trade intimacy for convenience. I still write my messages on greeting cards, and I’m not a fan of sharing other people’s quotes on Facebook. When I want to communicate, I leave my footprint in my message by making an effort to write them.

We have lost the element of presence when relating with people; instead, we Tik-Tok to communicate and express ourselves. We should “live in the moment with our whole being” is easier said than done. We can’t be present in the “here and now” when we carry the baggage of the past and the anxiety or excitement of things to come. We need to live in the moment with our whole being to be present.

To communicate fully is to be in communion with another person, and to be in communion, we must be present. When we’re unable to be present while with someone, we fail to connect totally. Our communication becomes garbled like a phone that can’t latch on a signal. We are with people, and yet we feel alone. When we can’t live in the moment, we lose our authentic selves and navigate daily life like a zombie on autopilot.

We find it challenging to be present at the moment when only part of our mind is in the moment, and the other half is stuck in the past or engaged in living in the future. Unable to be fully alive in the present, our lives become a work in progress with many unfinished chapters. Often, we don’t fully live in the moment because it brings unpleasant experiences or reminds us of past painful experiences. When this happens, our defenses of denial and repression kick in, and then we miss the bus. Living fully in the present requires total awareness, especially self-awareness, in the here and now.

If only we could remain grounded and find our silence amidst the world’s chatter. Most of all, let’s not lose ourselves when absorbed in the company of others by remaining fully present and self-aware of each passing moment, whatever surprises it brings.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR  Dr. Fernando B. Perfas is an addiction specialist who has written several books and articles on the subject. He currently provides training and consulting services to various government and non-government drug treatment agencies regarding drug treatment and prevention approaches. He can be reached at

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