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Andrei Tarkovsky

A Message From Tarkovsky for the Young: Learn to be Alone


Not knowing how to be alone is one of the most unfortunate symptoms that the Russian film director perceived among young people.

Solitude is perhaps the most natural of exercises available to us. That is where we cultivate some of the most fertile states for the brain and the spirit, when we experience the biggest torments and the most comforting tranquility.

Used healthily, solitude can be an exquisite vehicle. Our internal dialog takes on personal tones and we are obligated to face up to ourselves; we reveal ourselves to us without intermediaries. However, in many contexts solitude is treated with disdain, it is seen as suspicious and is even feared; it is avoided at all costs and is associated with social failure and boredom. And that cultural aversion toward solitude ends up denying millions of people the chance to take advantage of and enjoy the benefits that only that state can bring.

Asked by an interviewer, what would you like to tell young people? Tarkovsky, who was serenely leaning against a tree and whose work is characterized by blending elements such as pauses, silence and solitude, responded that his main piece of advice would be to learn to cultivate solitude:

 What would you like to tell young people?

I don’t know… I think I’d like to say only that they should learn to be alone and try to spend as much time as possible by themselves. I think one of the faults of young people today is that they try to come together around events that are noisy, almost aggressive at times. This desire to be together in order to not feel alone is an unfortunate symptom, in my opinion. Every person needs to learn from childhood how to be spend time with oneself. That doesn’t mean he should be lonely, but that he shouldn’t grow bored with himself because people who grow bored in their own company seem to me in danger, from a self-esteem point of view.


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