A PLACE FOR ME TO FIGURE IT OUT.
Year 3 in the War of Loneliness
It doesn't seem to get any easier, being alone. Easier to ignore, perhaps, as life ticks away, but the sensation felt when existing by oneself and without loved ones to count on in day to day life does not lesson. If anything it only grows stronger. I had no clue what it meant to be alone when I moved out of my parents house at the age of eighteen. I thought I did because I had, for the most part, been isolated from friends growing up due simply to the location of home. But I didn’t know what it was to never come home to anything but an empty house, or an empty room. There are no noises; no sounds of living people. Sometimes I can’t help but think that if something happened to me it would take several days before someone thought of my absence. All of those who would take notice if they could are too far away and phone calls are too irregular for it to make a difference.
There are many reasons why I have put myself in this position. First off, I believe it to be only temporary and my heart is faithful to that position. Mostly I chose this path because of its independence. The life I had been living was not my own, but my parents life. A life I admire and long for, but not mine. I desperately needed to go off and discover who I was when no one else was around. Even just to know something seemingly so simple as what my morning routine was when I didn’t need to schedule time in the bathroom around four other people. What I have discovered is that I actually function excellently on my own. On my own schedule I am clean, productive, and adventurous. But the loneliness often depresses my spirit. I lived most of my life with people. Not around them, but with them. I miss the days when someone wanted to know where I was going each time I stepped out of the door, even when I wasn’t even leaving the property. Now days, I can live an entire week without anyone knowing where I’ve been, unless I go out of my way to tell someone, and as freeing as that can be it is also terrifying.
The freedom in a life by oneself is that no one really relies on you. It doesn’t matter if you never leave the house on your day off and it doesn’t matter if you never go home because there is no one expecting you. Your schedule is all your own. There’s no waiting in the car for someone to find their shoes. No staying overlong because someone is still conversing with someone you don’t know or have no interest in speaking with. No scheduling car usage. No arguing over who did or didn’t do the dishes last. No one to nag you for being lazy or absent. Simply no one.
No one is a terrifying prospect. My mother likes to console me, “I’m just a phone call away!” But what about when you don’t answer your phone? What about when all I need is to curl up into a ball and cry in someone’s arms? What about when I need to get home at night and I’m walking the streets all by myself? Who’s going to help me when everyone who cares for me is three thousand miles away? There’s no picking me up at 2 in the morning. There’s no coming over to my house when I need comfort.
Being alone is terrifying not because I am incapable of functioning on my own, but because when push comes to shove there isn’t anyone to know where you’ve been or how you are. How and where you exist is unknown to others. Our capacity for communal living wouldn’t have evolved as such if we could survive on our own. Life is meant to be shared and experienced with and for others. The world is not a solo show. Each character is an individual with their own path, but it takes the whole cast and crew to produce the play.
After actually living by myself for a year and existing in a state of mild depression, I had finally found someone. A true and close friend. (My best friend). For the first time in two years I didn’t feel alone, because I wasn’t. Our relationship requires a lot of work and learning, which is perhaps the best part, but for some reason amidst all of our differences we decided to be there for one another. A brief moment of community and then I moved across the country only to be flown back to stage one loneliness. New city, new school, new people, new loneliness. I have the blessing of seeing my younger brother once a week, which gives me something to move towards constantly. Yet, apart from a couple of hours on Sundays I feel invisible to the world.
Basically what I’m saying is being alone sucks ass and anyone who says otherwise is lying to themselves. And when you exist in a community full of other independent peoples, who have all come from somewhere else, there is a bond created in that independence, but simultaneously everyone is doing their own thing. Everyone is struggling through these years of loneliness in order to eventually not be alone AND live the lives we deserve to live.
A war indeed.
Truth in the Details
An Early Morning Revelation...
In our society, importance and emphasis are placed on grand gestures and large actions. Theses are seen as a viable way to measure the constitution of one’s character. I say this is misguided. A politician may pass a law that favors the greater good of the people, even greater than that of their own constituents, but behind closed doors he abuses his family and is an alcoholic who seemingly only finds pleasure in the arms of a woman who is not his wife. They will argue that he did a great service for his country, when in actuality he is a coward, a thief, and a liar.
I believe that the small, intricate details of ones life are what define a character. Especially those actions that are on the surface and seemingly benign and useless, but really are infected with a simple kindness. Holding the door for someone, for example, seems of little to no consequence, but it can infect you, that person, and even those in the vicinity who noticed, with smiles and thanks. Even if just for a moment, that point in the universe was a more positive place. Perhaps this is where the idea of ‘proper society’ came from, although that was quickly diluted with greed, lust, and contempt. Still, the thought of a world where everyone was at least kind to each other in small acts is a pleasing one; even if we still hated each others guts, there would be an air of mutual respect and validation for each being.
Small actions: the way you interact with people in your day-to-day life (strangers and familiars), how you care for your environment, how you care for yourself, etc. These are the things that truly dictate the ways in which society moves forward. The grand gestures are simply thoughts or ideas up-scaled so that everyone can see them, but have no more substance without accommodating action. When the Union gave the Native Americans land reservations, it did not change the fact that all we have was stolen from them, it did not end their suffering. When the Union forced the Confederacy to rejoin the nation, it did not end slavery, or Jim Crow, or lynching. When we passed the Civil Rights Acts, racism did not cease or desist. When our legislatures gave women the right to vote it did not end the double-standard or misogyny. One grand gesture does not make-up for thousands of smaller misgivings, those little details of life. It can help to move things in the right direction, or not. The details are the most important aspects of life. The fine print on a document can affect the most authority and the most change.
It is in small ways that we can affect change in others as well, for we are, all of us, naturally resistant to making huge changes in our lives. The next time you feel as if your life is meaningless, or makes no difference, smile at that stranger on the subway, help the old lady carry her groceries home, act in small ways from the kindness within your heart. It can do wonders for the soul. Worry only about the things you can control, instead of the things you have no grasp on. This is how we, as individuals, can affect change for the greater society. We can infect the world with our small acts of simple kindness.
To Be Born
The world is full of guesses and superstitions, but I believe in a universal truth. Religions say that each of us is born with a purpose and each of us as individuals. Some people have looked to the stars and unearthly heavens as means of explaining why we are each so different. We live on a scale of time, which we have created for ourselves, trying to measure and organize the unexplained details of life. Perhaps we cannot understand. We cannot know and it is only in the acceptance of that wherein we find enlightenment and peace.
The Bible says, “In the beginning…” and that the earth and the heavens were created, and with them time and conscience. It says that the creator knows all. It could ne that the creator knows all because it does not exist within our conceptualizing, but instead everything is only the present, including all of time itself. We each were born from the universe, from existence, in a moment where everything was just so and as such as it will never be again. There is not past. There is no future. There is only the illusion that this moment is moving into the next just as our brains conceive of what our eyes capture like rolling film.
So what is this moment? You cannot place a pin on a timeline for even infinity does not exist. This moment is already gone for by the time we realize it is happening is has already past because our brains don’t function or conceive at the same speed as existence. There are no pause or stop buttons in life. All we can do is notice and do our very best to experience. Life is a constant movement that waits for no thing, not even our minds. If the whole world could only notice, we would not recognize the lives we live. As creations of the universe we are naturals at being blind to the very thing we are born of, hiding in our minds and our fabrications, which we consider to be life. But even life itself is so vast that we are unable to fully know and experience it, we have too much conscience for that.