Sometimes I sit alone in my apartment or at a cafe and a sense of calmness that would otherwise be unattainable floods over my being. Lately I’ve been exploring the concept of “being alone” and almost immediately I feel a rewarding sense of self-satisfaction. I suppose this could be perceived as anti-social behavior, but I believe it more a sense of acceptance for the inevitable. Occasionally I wonder if what I’m feeling is really different manifestations of depression that continuously seep in and out of my life at times of perceived crisis or difficulty… other times I think I’m just being the worrywart that I am. Whichever it may be, the notion and topic of “loneliness” seems to be a perpetuating concept that streams through every fiber of my being.
What is loneliness? What purpose does loneliness serve? Is it an emotion that ought to be “combated” or “conquered”? Are human beings meant to be mere “social animals”? If so, what does it mean to be “social”? And does “social” equate to happiness – or is that a mere mirage that one wishes to attain as society perpetually dictates that social acceptance is what one really needs – or should desire?
Provided by http://www.dictionary.com, “loneliness” is linguistically defined as the following:
1. Affected with, characterized by, or causing a depressing feeling of being alone; lonesome
2. Destitute of sympathetic or friendly companionship, intercourse, support, etc.
3. Lone; solitary; without company, companionless
4. Remote from places of human habitation; desolate; unfrequented; bleak
5. Standing apart; isolated
Interesting enough, though not in the least bit surprising, is that the connotation to “lonely” is negative, which too many whom I have already spoken with, agree. The idea that one may be lonely for a long duration in life seems unheard of and rather absurd, but I wonder, is one ever not lonely, or not alone? I suppose I should elaborate…
As an “individual” one is shaped by one’s experiences, through family, friends, culture, environment, society, etc… The point is that every person’s experience is different and even if others go through the same experience, it is never perceived or filtered the same way. In this sense, one is really always alone as no other human being on the planet can truly understand what one means, feels, thinks or perceives when one proceeds to narrate an experience. I believe what we tend to do, is gravitate to those who seem to share similar experiences; to the best of our knowledge, the majority of us tend to seek those who seem to best relate to our current placement in life as this type of attraction allows one to feel a sense of false security – to feel that we are not alone in our experience as there is another who is able to relate to us, even if that relation is never fully 100% relevant. From this stance, imperfection is in itself perfection and one that combats solitude and temporary depression. Assuming that my conjecture is accurate, what then happens to the one who discovers that these temporary moments of relief are irrelevant to the grand question – whatever that may be? In other words, why do we seek to relate to others? What does this type or seeking serve, acknowledge, or validate? Do we seek to find purpose? Seek to find security? Comfort, love, approval, acceptance…? Lastly, do we ever really attain what it is that we’re seeking or are we left an impasse?
I’m not really sure if any of these questions can ever be answered, but it has left me contemplating the purpose of loneliness. Why does one rarely ask what purpose does loneliness serve? Or what – if anything – does loneliness reveal about oneself, of who one is, of what one desires, and of where one is in life? In other words, why is loneliness most often coupled with negativity? Perhaps that is the problem, loneliness is most often seen through negative lenses – when one leaves a relationship, experiences of pain and sadness, varying types of loss, and even death. But if one were to come to grips with loneliness… to know that it is an inevitability, maybe then, through those lenses, loneliness may serve as being a mere part of life, an inescapable state of being that is never truly “conquered” or “defeated” – and in that sense should not be seen as something that should be conquered or defeated, but rather, it is occasionally muffled through momentary spurts of “social-ness”. Maybe it is at that moment of acceptance that happiness is experienced through loneliness and a sense of perpetuating calmness is washed over our being.