Ahh, solitude. I ( a slow learner ) finally learned to cherish solitude; prior to that I suffered terribly over the years when alone for extended periods. I am now certain the suffering existed solely because of my desire to not be alone. Buddhism promotes the concept of extinguishing desire because desire is linked with suffering. Based on my experience I think this is a sound strategy, and it dovetails nicely with what your sidewalk guru said right before you rode out of San Francisco ( "here, now", etc. ). Do you know the story of the French sailor, Bernard Moitessier ? In the very first singlehanded nonstop round the world sailing race, he was in contention for the win, which if achieved would have given him the sort of fame in France which Neil Armstrong had in the US. So what does this guy Bernard do ? On the home stretch he reverses his course and sails to the other side of the world. Clearly the dude enjoyed his time alone. His book "The Long Way" is well worth reading even if you aren't a sailor. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernard_Moitessier#Solo_around_the_world .