“How can you hear your soul if everyone is talking?”
-Mary Doria Russell
Solitude and loneliness.
Though frequently interchanged, and though physically might sometimes look like the same thing, they are essentially very different. I would venture to guess that you’ve experienced that odd feeling of loneliness while in the midst of a great crowd. Would it be possible to be the only human being in the whole universe and simply remain in a state of solitude? Perhaps I exaggerate with that example, but solitude is less about the material presence of people and more about the state of one’s mind.
I’ve felt lonely more than occasionally; loneliness makes it’s nest anywhere and anytime. Midday in the bright sun, sitting on a bench, people watching, one can feel bitterly alone. Late at night with only the moon to keep company, the creeping fingers of loneliness can squeeze your heart until the only remedy is to shed some tears, feeling sorry and empty.
But the funny thing about solitude is it can be found in the exact same places. I like to think that I’ve experienced solitude more often than loneliness. There are those who are perfectly content to remain by themselves, invigorated even by the quiet an empty room can bring.
Loneliness is feeling that there is no one, not a soul who cares or is near enough to notice that you are by yourself. Solitude is the state of being alone; innately, the word does not insinuate positive or negative feelings. So, taking solitude well, I’ve found it offers a whole lot of goodness, if only we are unafraid to turn off the noise and close the doors for a bit and listen to what we are trying to say to ourselves.
I like to visit cafes by myself. Not always, but especially early in the morning when there’s no one else there yet and I have the pick among all the tables. I’ll settle in, usually in a corner, and take a moment to decide what I will do next. More often than not, I read or write, edit a few photos, sometimes just listen to music and write my schedules.
But Eert Cafe is a little different. It’s an interior designer’s dream; all wood and latticed panels, slim bamboo trees by the window, sunlight filtering through the willowy leaves, casting shadows on the table. My tea cup is made of glass and the atmosphere is tranquil.
There is a zen garden off to the side, symmetrical circles and swirls carefully drawn through the sand and small pebbles. It’s soothing and oddly mesmerizing. I trace the lines with my eyes, following where they end and where they begin, sometimes tapering off until they vanish into the sand again. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a few serene days like that; perfectly satisfied with going nowhere.
Eert Coffee is not very visible; the cafe is located in a side alley off a backstreet where a few other cafes and restaurants are, quiet in the afternoon. Look upwards to the second floor and you will see the signature, slim bamboo trees shading the main window of the cafe.
I spent a few hours here at opening; people trickled in and out, friends, couples, a family with one child. I imagine that it’s great for a quiet date or an outing alone.
Here, as I sat by myself, watching people and sipping my tea, I felt the satisfying restfulness of solitude. I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be nice if I could simply do this forever – think, appreciate and just be. Of course, my natural inclination to run and fight and be contrary sometimes struggles with the art of solitude and quiet rumination; I often find myself trapped in the cycle of constant occupation to avoid thinking about what I’m really doing. I must also highlight that we are not meant to be alone; not always. In solitude, the best can come out but also the worst. Finding that beautiful balance though, well, there the secret lies in loving solitude. Eert Coffee is just right for making that place where solitude feels like a friendly companion.
Hours: M-Sun 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Location: 19-17 Seoulsup 2(i)-gil
Plastic Free: Yes! Beautifully so. Porcelain, wood, and glass make up most of the place.
I hope you’ll visit sometime; snap a photo if you do and tag me @sincerelybeckyw 🙂