Are you Lonely, Lonely, Lonely?
Catching isn’t it……… I have been spending some time studying, feeling and processing the very common sensation of being alone. Most will say that even though they have family, friends and community, there still lies deep within a sense of aloneness. It is a aching sensation, that curls the stomach and is deeply painful. Sometimes despite being busy, and finding distractions, that emptiness still exists underneath in the deep interior. Existential loneliness is a understanding that may help a person embrace the sensation, welcome the pain, open the interior and allow the funnelling of the pain, leading to one’s true inner being coming fully present in the world. This is not an easy process, nor quick and will surely require the release of material and social comforts and the loving embrace of solitude and stillness but in the long run will bring a sense of wholeness and completeness to the solitary journey of being a human being.
Loneliness as a human condition
The existentialist school of thought views loneliness as the essence of being human. Each human being comes into the world alone, travels through life as a separate person, and ultimately dies alone. Coping with this, accepting it, and learning how to direct our own lives with some degree of grace and satisfaction is the human condition.
Loneliness can also play an important role in the creative process. In some people, temporary or prolonged loneliness can lead to notable artistic and creative expression, for example, as was the case with poet Emily Dickinson, and numerous musicians. This is not to imply that loneliness itself ensures this creativity, rather, it may have an influence on the subject matter of the artist and more likely be present in individuals engaged in creative activities
The whole conviction of my life now rests upon the belief that loneliness, far from being a rare and curious phenomenon, peculiar to myself and to a few other solitary men, is the central and inevitable fact of human existence. When we examine the moments, acts, and statements of all kinds of people — not only the grief and ecstasy of the greatest poets, but also the huge unhappiness of the average soul…we find, I think, that they are all suffering from the same thing. The final cause of their complaint is loneliness. ‘God’s Lonely Man,’ novelist Thomas Wolfe
In accepting loneliness as a part of the human condition and abandoning the frenetic search for someone or something to make us unalone, we can then be open to the message within our existential pain. Patient and prayerful waiting and listening are necessary, also courage and honesty with ourselves. But it is the only way to freedom from domination by fear. The alternative is to choose to remain unaware of what life asks of us (and irresponsible), but then we shall remain unfree and our life determined by our anxiety. “There is no solution to loneliness but to accept it, face it, live with it, and let it be. All it requires is the right to emerge in genuine form.”(3) “The cure for loneliness lies in facing it and understanding it.”(4) This acceptance and understanding is necessary if we are to live creative lives, if we are to be free and open to the opportunities for further growth and development. Before we can take this step toward understanding, we have to let go the fallacious idea that pain has nothing to teach us, that life should be always comfortable and pleasurable. If we are serious about our human task, we become aware of the invitation in the pain that enters our life, an invitation that invites us to be more than we are. “Where there is no pain there is no growth.”(5) The pain of loneliness is such an invitation and opportunity.
Some of the greatest literature, art, and music that the world has known has been conceived in moments of profound loneliness, loneliness that has been accepted and allowed to speak. Such creation cannot happen through denial. And such creation is usually a lonely and solitary experience. It is like birthing — we have to go with the labor pains; no one else can do it for us. The creation that might result from our bearing the tension of our pain may bring delight to many, but the process of bringing it forth is a lonely one. Out of loneliness grows the contented aloneness that opens up to us our own creative depths. It is not in driven busyness that we find that “more” that we long for. It is in the recollection of aloneness that we discover deep within ourselves that which supports us when we have nothing or no one to take away our loneliness. It is here that we come in touch with the life that connects us with ourselves, with others, and with God.