I suddenly found myself thinking about the word apart. “A part” with a space between the a and the p, means “a part of” whereas, apart, with no space means separated from. What came to me as I pondered this was that a person has to separate, or differentiate, before they can authentically be “a part of” something. A person is always separate or apart from others until they go through their inner individuation process. It is only when one’s individuality is firmly established that they can genuinely or honestly be “a part of” something.
Alone implies apart, but “to lone” means being a part of humanity as an individual. In her book, Stations of Solitude, Alice Koller asserts that the experience of “being elementally alone” (apart) is the prerequisite for being able “to lone” (be part of as an authentic individual). I read this book many years ago but it is only now that I am seeing the truth and elegance of her philosophy. Individuality is not a given; it is something we seek, crave and develop throughout our life, within the laboratory of our genes, history, experience and spirit. The blossoming of our individuality is the reason we exist and the resulting differentness or separateness that comes of this, enables meaningful participation in the whole.
Rudolf Steiner stressed in his philosophical work, the need to individualize. He said the tendency people now show to withdraw into themselves is becoming a more pronounced characteristic of our time and asserted that an isolated life, secluded from others, is a necessary stage of human evolution. We are seeing this happening as an ever increasing number of people make the choice to live alone or to carve out ways to be alone in order to “find themselves.”
I am beginning to believe that introversion is an evolutionary stage rather than an individual characteristic. People who are called introverts or who identify as introverts are pushing against the boundaries of the next stage of human evolution. They are taking the first steps away from group consciousness (which is limiting and increasingly nationalistic) towards differentiating as separate and unique individuals.