The Art of Loneliness: A Visit with an Old Man Who Loves to Be Alone

What kind of experience should a person like to live alone? Is it a strong heart, or a cowardly heart?

In the countryside, I saw an old man, his name was Yongli, my name was Rongli, and I suddenly felt an indescribable intimacy.

He is a man who likes to be alone. I liked it when I was in my twenties, and now I am eighty-five years old.

I am a person who likes excitement, and I have never left the excitement in my life. I have liked lively groups, manic birdsong, angry waves, and violent winds.

The old man likes to be alone, like everything about being alone. In his yard, there was a fig plant planted in a pot. The fig was still green, and he staggered, trying to break free from the big pot, but he was shy because he was afraid of being discovered by the old man.

There is a rope in the old man’s yard, like a clothes hanger; another rope, like pickle leaves.

The room was damp, one shoe, another shoe, shining a lonely light in the room.

Pigs were once raised in the yard, and there were six pig pens, one after another, six in a row. Presumably the pig’s cry once disturbed the old man’s loneliness, or the old man was lonely and didn’t care about the pig’s cry at all. Now, all the pigs are far away.

The kitchen is very simple, so simple that even the dust falls on the rice bowl alone. No flies were seen, only a mosquito was flying in the air, looking free.

The old man blushed. The hair is white, the beard is white, the whiteness of the beard and hair is not the same as the whiteness of the teeth, the whiteness of the teeth is like the glitter of gold.

Well up to share the old man’s lonely desire. In the yard, it was just me, him, and the photographer. There is a lonely smile in the yard. The old man likes to enjoy solitude since he was young. Although he has a daughter, another daughter, and a son.

The moisture in the room is also lonely, exuding a lonely charm, which does not match the sunshine outside the courtyard at all.

Imagine the grunting of the six pigs one after another, disturbing the sunshine, perhaps disturbing the neat white hair of the old man. That white hair made the old man look like a fairy. If only this house was in the mountains.

Looking closer, the face is red and the eyes are bright, which corresponds to the metaphor of white hair and youthful face. The old man is almost thirty years older than me. The old man understands the importance of loneliness. Loneliness, whitened his hair, whitened his beard; loneliness settled down again, painted into a blush all over his face.

I want to ask the old man, why do you like to be alone? Don’t you love to love and be loved?

Finally did not ask. The old man said, I like to be alone, I don’t like to be with children, I like to live alone, and live peacefully by myself. ——I extended it for him: I like the two ropes hanging in the air, I like the figs planted in a big vat, I like the silence after the pigs are chased away in the yard, I like the silent moisture, I even like the sound of mosquitoes approaching my house…

The old man with white beard is a fairy in mythology. I walked up and down in front of him, imagining what this old man looked like when he was young. Now, when he is alone, how should he comb his white hair, and how should he stare at the changes in the sky. What does an old man who likes to be alone think in his heart? In the future, can I face loneliness like this old man with a calm face?

How happy it is to be able to enjoy solitude when one is old! When taking a photo with the old man, he insisted on combing his beard neatly, and he insisted on pulling down an old wire on the wall. He wanted the background of the two of us to be more tidy. I suddenly felt an aura emanating from the old man.

I stick out my thumb, and he sticks out his thumb. In a village overflowing with bamboo seas, the old man’s thumb conveyed a certain peace to me. After leaving him for a long time, I asked myself, why can’t I find my own freedom in loneliness?

I will always remember that old man who likes to be alone. Maybe one day, I can practice like him and like to be alone…

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