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The Quizzical, Lonely State of Enjoying Something That No One Else Seems to Appreciate

Updated on December 11, 2011


False Expectations

How often has it happened that you wished to share your enthusiasm for a book you read, a movie or TV program you watched, a piece of music you listened to, or just simply wished to convey a cherished memory, and your loved one (would-be loved one), close friend, associate reacted with a "meh," or worse, a full-out confession they could not identify with your experience? If you are like me, you instantaneously start to feel minuscule wood cutters tearing into your stomach. One of my life discoveries is that even people who are close to you will not necessarily share your feelings about an experience. For them, all they can do is react with a deadpan nothingness, perhaps a kind of "huh" reaction, or just look at you blankly.

This shouldn't wound us because we all travel on separate roads, have our separate set of emotions -- highs and lows. The fact that someone cannot relate to our enthusiasm is exceedingly more likely than otherwise. But, all the same it can have the immediate effect of causing our internal organs to shrivel and to leave us with a terrible sense of detachment, isolation, and sadness. We require our special someone or our clan to embrace us -- not just because of our being able to drag home a felled moose, but because we have high (and low) emotions. When our immediate circle cannot relate to our delight (or sorrow), This instantly makes us feel separate, and our feelings seem to lose their validation. Inwardly, we may feel somewhat ridiculous and absurd for having let our emotions be known by anyone outside ourselves.

As we mature, we may gather the muster to reply with the blankness by saying (e.g.) "Oh, you haven't listened to Shostakovitch's tenth symphony ... what a pity." This is a kind of "I am a rock, I am an island" approach to being disappointed. Later in life we may have come to terms with this dichotomy and simply remain silent at our listener's utter lack of comprehension and zeal. The pang will still be there, but not felt as sharply as when you are eighteen years old and your emotions haven't been corralled. The incomprehension, the inability, the lack of awareness/appreciation of others to feel what we feel pushes us back upon ourselves. It affirms the dark thought that we are in fact all alone, and any kind of communication with another is something of an oddity.

The only and obvious answer to this dilemma is to enjoy what you enjoy and have NO EXPECTATIONS that anyone else will have the same feeling. It's a matter of accepting our solitude, our separateness from others. Each of us experiences the universe and our existence in unfathomably separate ways. Not even a twin would have the identical feelings we hold dear. Others do not deliberately seek to disappoint us by being unable to identify with our inner joy or sorrow, but they are essentially trapped in their own universe. We cannot communicate with each other psychically. This really ends up being one of those things were one has to just bear up under the disappointment, the feelings of isolation and separateness until it seems more the norm than the exception.

From early youth to adulthood, this maturity of the psyche is a strenuous challenge. The gap between human thought cannot be bridged by marriage, by the production of offspring or by the any reconciliation with parental figures. The gap is insurmountable -- not matter how close the bond, there is no alternative but to adapt to the limitation. A very useful book on this subject is called "Alone With Others -- An Existential Approach to Buddhism," written by Stephen Bachelor (see


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    • chuckbl profile image

      Charlie 6 years ago from Scotland

      Really nice hub, I often feel what you are describing and I think a lot of the time it's because other people haven't tried to experience what I am enjoying properly. Thanks for sharing.