The necessary thing is after all but this: solitude, great inner solitude. Going-into-oneself and for hours meeting no one—this one must be able to attain. To be solitary, the way one was solitary as a child, when the grownups went around involved with things that seemed important and big because they themselves looked so busy and because one comprehended nothing of their doings.

And when one day one perceives that their occupations are paltry, their professions petrified and no longer linked with living, why not then continue to look like a child upon it all as upon something unfamiliar, from out of the depth of one’s own world, out of the expanse of one’s own solitude, which is itself work and status and vocation? Why want to exchange a child’s wise incomprehension is after all being alone, while defensiveness and disdain are a sharing in that from which one wants by these means to keep apart.

Rainer Maria Rilke, letter no. 6 to Franz Xaver Kappus, 23 December 1903, in Letters to a Young Poet, translated by M. D. Herter Norton