Someone should write a history of it.
Think about it. Probably for the first million plus years we were here on earth, we were up to our ears in solitude. We'd watched the sky and the horizon for a bit of smoke, listen for the turning of a clumsy wheel or a whistle coming from some tall grass. Anything that might signal that our solitude was about to end.
At night, we'd sit in a tree or a cave and practice our smiles and handshakes on the off chance we'd meet somebody the next day coming toward us through that grass. We'd also practice our “company’s coming” talk, "Hi, I'm Abel from this tree here, glad to meet you. You just passing through? Like to stop?"
Sometimes you see a bird all alone on a tree, turning his head this way and that, pausing and listening the way birds listen to the sounds in the wind when they're all alone. We were probably like that bird most of the time we were on earth--maybe up to about 15,000 years ago when we learned to hunker down together.
It was probably a good break from the solitude and what was behind it and always coming closer, the loneliness.
A person gets tired of sleeping with his back exposed to the wind and the weather. He wants to have someone behind him keeping his back warm. It was probably that way when he was a baby, his momma pressing his back into her warm belly. You miss that kind of loving and go searching for something that will break the loneliness and the fancy Sunday-dress version of loneliness, solitude.
But then something happens, and we start getting a little too much of that pressing.
Maybe it's the growth of cities or the rise of the merchant class or the start of the industrial revolution with its ugly factories, and all we got then is people pressing into us, some pressing in a loving way but more just pressing, just pressing a little more each day until we start thinking down into our DNA and remembering the solitude we had so much of so long ago, and we start missing it.
(Photos: The first photo of a field in Illinois is by the poet and photographer Michael Healey. The photo of Walden Pond 2007 and the Bellagio Casino/Las Vegas 2007 are by me.)