I have trodden the winepress alone. Isaiah 63:3 (A. Heschel translation)
Alone – “It is not good for man to be alone,” but on some occasions it is essential. “Proximity to the crowd, to the majority view, spells the death of creativity. For a soul can create only when alone, and some are chosen for the flowering that takes place in the dark avenues of the night. They may live on the edge of despair, alternating between longing for fellowship and privacy.”
As a general rule, God calls us to community. But some He calls to a much more difficult existence. Some He calls to experience His abandonment. Some He calls to enter into the life of the divine divorce that He knows. Some He calls to empathize with Him. The edge of true creativity is the blade that cuts and spills our blood in the process of separation. It is safe in the crowd. It is comforting to walk in lock-step with the masses. But conformity does not produce depth or spiritual keenness or compassion. For that, we must suffer rejection, misunderstanding and fight the darkness within. No man or woman chooses this blithely. The cost is much too high. No prophet longed for the job. To push the envelope of the creative image of God in us is to risk being sacrificed “for the greater good.” God Himself trod the wine press alone.
The Hebrew text expresses this form of existential abandonment with the combination of the preposition le and the adjective bad. This combination means “by itself” or “apart from.” You will find an expression of the burden of this condition in Genesis 2:18. Here God Himself declares that He alone will bring the judgment upon Israel. He alone will be polluted by their blood. He alone accepts responsibility. In fact, the Hebrew emphasizes this solitary culpability by adding the suffix letter yod. “I, I alone have trodden the winepress.”
The agony of being alone, in spite or because of the creative energy that brings about our destiny, is often too much to bear. We capitulate to the need for comfort and companionship and in the process we abdicate. Perhaps that is why there are so infinitely few who truly create while there are so many whose production is at best xerography. To come under the scalpel of creativity always leaves visible scars. There is no plastic surgery for genius.
God knows what it means to be alone. Since God is the most creative being, His depth of understanding exceeds any agony we might encounter in our expression of inspiration. While the consolation of His empathy does not replace the communal bliss of humanity, it at least can sustain us when we tread the winepress of imagination. He has been there before us. Rejection is His middle name.
To be alone might not be good, but there is good company when we are there.
Topical Index: alone, bad, creativity, Isaiah 63:3
 Abraham Heschel, A Passion for Truth, p. 215.