On Silence and Loneliness: In Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar

I can’t help myself. Embracing solitude in anxiety and comfort is greater than remaining habitual. But as humans, we do both. Extract the good from the bad. Accept it. And still remain confined to what feels familiar and ours. I felt this conversation clinging to me when I was reading Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, which is wired to her emotions as my own. Revisiting her The Bell Jar, I found myself taking down notes page after page, not to review, but to deeply connect to and understand her work. And modernity doesn’t meditate on such loneliness the way this book does. These sentences, for example, extract the singular meaning of what makes humans vicious yet so purely beautiful:

“The silence depressed me. It wasn’t the silence of silence. It was my own silence.”

Some of us feel loneliness in the lack of physical contact, some in conversations, and some in emotional and sexual intimacy. And there are some souls that feel it all; all at once and for a long time. This stretch of time refines our sense of being, doesn’t it? And while this happens — we lose things too. We lose our ability to familiarize with words that we used to manifest so conveniently. Words like hope, happiness, responsibility, strength, love, and loss. For me, my loneliness is the embodiment of invisible objects awakened for silent protests of intimacies that go beyond my understanding.

Somewhere in the space between the present and the future, this silence has consumed me. But here’s the interpretation of it: it’s not something that has happened, is happening, or will happen. It’s the kind of lacuna that exists as is as a part of me. If there’s a word for self-reflection — for the feelings that appear and re-appear in a sequence of time — each time it devotes its significance to my own prelude to existing and living: then this is it. My loneliness is my vessel of familiarity, of being erratic, and of having to succumb to cause and effect in the happenings of my life. And suddenly, my own silence occurred to me as if I was thrown back into placid reflections. Reflections as inescapable as breathing and as delicate as dust that I can’t help but embrace time’s inevitable passing. I am sure of what my loneliness means to me — and The Bell Jar reminds of its unwavering significance. What is loneliness? Is it yours as much as it is mine, or is it the measure of what we don’t say? I am not sure — but of what I am is, for me, a breath of fresh air.