Hope everyone is enjoying their weekend. I’m headed out. I might hit the office to tie some loose ends today, or maybe I’ll leave that for tomorrow. Not much else going on. The weather is mild (considering we’re in the middle of a NYC winter), so I’ll enjoy the day – maybe call someone tonight.
* * *
Being apart and lonely is like rain.
It climbs toward evening from the ocean plains;
from flat places, rolling and remote, it climbs
to heaven, which is its old abode.
And only when leaving heaven drops upon the city.
It rains down on us in those twittering
hours when the streets turn their faces to the dawn,
and when two bodies who have found nothing,
disappointed and depressed, roll over;
and when two people who despise each other
have to sleep together in one bed-
that is when loneliness receives the rivers…
— Rainer Maria Rilke
I haven’t been “lonely” in a very long time.
Like many others, however, I have felt the cold sting of loneliness throughout my life. To feel alone and isolated – even in the midst of life itself – can be one of the most painful experiences. If we live our lives asleep, habitually running from pain and clinging to pleasure, loneliness is the cruelest punishment. For as human beings, we die without connection.
In a very real way, we can die from loneliness.
However, when I look back to the times when I felt loneliness, I realize now that it was me who was creating the consequences of loneliness. It was my reactions to the sense of feeling alone that created my suffering, for how can you possibly conceive of yourself as being alone?
It’s a rhetorical question, needing no answer.
Just take a moment and reflect on that question a little: “who” is feeling lonely? If you perceive yourself as separate from all Creation then your loneliness is the vilest curse. On the other hand, if you’re able to glimpse through the surface, you quickly realize that this bag of flesh you inhabit is not everything. I am not merely a concept we’re all agreeing to call “Eddie.” I am much more than that. I am part of an infinite process that unfolds moment to moment.
This is not to say I don’t feel what we call “loneliness,” I just experience that deep feeling differently. Loneliness, or rather, running from loneliness, has made me do some really stupid shit. Like settle for less, or engage in sexual acts as a substitute for true intimacy. This escape from loneliness has at times cost me my human dignity and at other times made me cruel person.
Until I stopped running…
Then I was able to face my sense of loneliness and feel, as if for the first time, the purifying coolness of my tears. Tears like rain, washing away all my pretenses and defenses. And when I finally stood there and saw with fresh eyes, I realized that I was never alone. The fact was that I had made of my desire a prison where I indulged in the excesses of my ego-driven madness for validation.
I haven’t felt loneliness for a long time.
I guess the value of solitude depends upon the individual; it may be an oasis or a prison, a refuge or a punishment, a heaven or a hell. Ultimately, we make it what it is.
Today, I have realized that in my loneliness I can create a garden of solitude.