Perspectives: Loneliness ~ It's Not About Being Alone
For an introduction to premise and intent behind the 'Perspectives:' series visit the link provided below, and to enjoy the other perspectives by my fellow contributors visit the links listed at the end of this hub ~
. . . after you read through this hub, go back and 'click' on the highlighted links throughout for a musical expression of the idea offered - this is some of the best music around . . .
'Loneliness': disconnected from other people - or disconnected from yourself?
I'm sure I'm going to lose many of you with this one - but to me, these smiling, excited, busy people reveling in the enthusiasms of Mardi Gras, look like tragically lonely people. I'm sure they all gush-out ribald tales of 'we partied all night!' and 'I can't wait to go back next year!', but, and I almost feel I need to apologize for advancing this idea, but it just all seems so sad to me. Now, if I haven't lost you yet, I may very well accomplish that here; loneliness isn't really about being alone, it's not about being ignored by others - it's about ignoring yourself. When people are disconnected from other people they are alone - when people are disconnected from themselves they are lonely.
This is why some folks can be shut-up in a room they rarely venture out of and feel no sense of loneliness, while others can be in the midst of a vigorous crowd and be ravaged by loneliness. When I was about 13 my family moved from an inner city block, where nearly every other house had a 13 year old boy in, it to a small village where I had no peers, no boys (or girls) close to my own age. When I lived in the city I would leave the house with “I’m going out mom” knowing that when I walked onto our front porch I could look down the street and see Billy and Gary out throwing a football in the street, look up the street and see Mike and Joey scratching around in the dirt with Matchbox cars, and look right across the street and see Georgie standing on his front porch looking at me – when we moved to the small village I would go outside, the wide and quiet street was empty, there were no signs of life . . . very often, I would go to a little strip of woods in the back of my house that bordered a tiny stream, and sit for hours, by myself.
A deliberate ‘self’ vs a default ‘self’?
Now, I imagine that sounds like a very lonely scene, but the reality is that was a very cool little hideaway. I enjoyed and have very fond memories of the flat rock I would sit on as the babbling water of that tiny stream trickled past . . . the quiet nature that surrounded me, I loved it back there. And when I consider the kind of kid I was, the kind of kid I was raised to be, and the dramatically different experiences of living in those two very contradictory circumstances, it suggests to me that loneliness is a thing that comes from what’s going on within you, not what’s going on around you.
My mom raised me to be very self-possessed, to be very deliberate about things, to think independently and to not be swayed from personal principles . . . to be a man was to be in control of yourself. My mother was also very keen to teach me how to use language, and to give due regard to the meaning of words . . . I remember her training me that ‘happy’ has to do with things that are happening while ‘joy’ has to do with what’s going on inside you. I think perhaps because my father abandoned us and because we were poor, my mom was diligent to coach me not to let others define me, that whatever was going on around me (if other kids had more than me or were teasing me, etc) that couldn’t damage or distress the ‘me’ that I was inside myself, unless I permitted it to. But, to have that inner person unaffected by external circumstances, you had to know your ‘self’, you had to have a ‘self’ that you have conscientiously cultivated, you had to have a deliberate ‘self’ of your own making and not a default ‘self’ thrust upon you by your culture and fashion.
Some folks actually fear being alone
Now, here’s how this all works with loneliness; I wasn’t lonely back in those woods alone, because I was with myself . . . and I knew me and actually enjoyed my own company. If you’re a deliberate person and not a default person, if you listen to the music and wear the clothes and eat the food, etc, etc that you determine within yourself that you like, rather than whatever the contemporary culture, the crowd, tells you that you should like, if you believe and vote and stand firm for what you come to after your own diligent consideration regardless of the popular notions of the day, then that’s how you are able to engage with others genuinely and not superficially, that’s how you can build real relationships that are consequential in your life.
If you ‘go with the flow’, if you just allow whatever is currently hip to be your interest, if you merely jump onto every bandwagon of music trend or social cause or political correctness, etc, then you will be a fashionable personality but not an authentic person – not the real ‘you’ that’s inside you yet to be. And loneliness is an infirmity of not really being you . . . it’s not about being alone rather than being around others – it’s about having and knowing the authentic ‘you’ that you can unite to others with, or through. This is why some folks can be all alone in their quiet room and never be lonely, while others can be surrounded by crowds at a festive party and feel terribly lonely. Loneliness is not having or knowing a real ‘you’ that you can share with others . . . or, having and knowing a real ‘you’ that you can enjoy all by yourself.
"It is not good for man to be alone"
Now, please understand that I believe we are not made or meant to "be all alone in our quiet room", we are creatures of relationship, we are made and meant to be in union with others. Consider this; whether you count the Bible as God's own authoritative revelation of eternal truth or one of man's many ancient attempts to understand the world he finds himself in, it is a compelling idea that one of the very first things that God said after He created man was "It is not good for man to be alone", and so God made man male and female, directing them to "be fruitful and multiply". We are made, designed, for relationship, we are not as we should be if we are not bonded together with others in love - but we can't enjoy true bonds of love (family, friends, spouses) if we are not our real selves but are merely an adopted facade, an acted-out persona that is informed by our contemporary culture and is what we imagine would be acceptable to others.
If you know yourself and are comfortable being yourself, then you can be alone without being lonely . . . and you can fully enjoy the genuine relationships that can only come from being real people. Sadly, there are many people who dread being alone, many actually fear being all by themselves - not because they so enjoy the intimacy of genuine relationships, but because they need the busyness, and even outrageous drama, of around other people to distract them from the fearful loneliness of being them . . . because they don't really know themselves.
We're delighted that our guest writer for this month is btrbell ~
Please do visit this month's other 'Perspectives:' ~
Next Month's theme will be ~
'What Don't You Know?'
"Ignorance of certain subjects is a great part of wisdom..." ~ Hugo DeGroot
Of what subjects are you ignorant?
Please contact MickeySr, or any of the 'Perspectives:' team, if you're interested to be our guest writer for March