Loneliness Part I
June 23, 2011 § Leave a comment
“My reputation as a ladies’ man was a joke that caused me to laugh bitterly through the ten thousand nights I spent alone.” – Leonard Cohen
We are social beings at our core. We are designed to connect. But these days social media sites have begun to take the place of real human interaction, and I believe that is having dire effects on us all.
My birthday this year was a case in point. On facebook, I received hundreds of messages, telling me I am lovely, beautiful,and sweet. So ironic that I spent the entire day alone and only had three phone calls (one was work-related). I’m sure that anyone who saw my facebook site would have gathered that I have hundreds of friends and so didn’t bother (or maybe didn’t want to burden me?) to phone or invite me anywhere. There was a part of me that thought, I’m just going to let go today and see where things lead, see who reaches out and see how things unfold without any expectations. I didn’t want to be the one who had to reach out on my birthday.
When I was younger these connections came so much more easily. And maybe that is why I look back on my highschool years as some of the best of my entire life, as strange as that sounds. There was no internet then, and I was around people constantly, either on the phone or actually with my friends for most of the day. I heard the Beatles describe their tours as “laughing for years.” That’s what highschool was like for me, I was laughing with my friends for years, real laughing, until we couldn’t breath and were crying and rolling on the grass, the kind you don’t get too often these days. We were deeply connected.
I’m tired of the things I force myself to do alone, like pretty much everything: hauling boxes, moving, garage sales, cleaning, unpacking, celebrating, dreaming, writing, cooking, thinking, worrying. My community has grown thinner over the last two years and I have been stoic about it, not letting on. Now, after talking about this to a few friends, I see many of us are going through the same thing. We have to make time for eachother and really connect, really care. Some people are surrounded by others all the time but they still feel lonely. They feel lonely because they aren’t really known, maybe they don’t even know themselves. Loneliness is the ultimate self-abandonment. Sometimes we force ourselves to stay lonely because we are afraid of where true connection would lead, or we are afraid of having “too much fun” like we owe it to the world to suffer, or bury our head in our books. We are social beings and we are created to love one another. That’s all there is.
They say that loneliness is a spiritual state to cultivate. I say, I am done with it. I am sick of how facebook connections have become substitutes for direct love, affection, and communication in my life and yours. There is no subsitute for looking you in the eyes and sharing your secrets and dancing to your song, and hearing about your dreams.
And yet, as I write this, I am conscious of the fact that, being a creative person, I require alone time, and that in some ways I am married to my alone-ness, it’s where I access the pool of my creative energy. But alone time is not the same as loneliness, loneliness aches, it’s really a physical sensation of pain and we long to escape it. Alone-ness is vibrant and rich and ultimately a type of communication.
As creative individuals, we may guard our time alone as sacred, because it is. But we have to remember to keep in balance and not forget our natures as social animals. And we have to make ourselves available for connection not only with ourselves, but with others. Before the internet, the phone would ring more, and I guess in family situations it’s easier to feel safe in alone time, we know there is someone waiting for us when we come out the other side. Whatever our circumstances, the main thing is to not ever allow the social networking sites replace human contact.