So I was talking to my friend – let’s call him John – during the build up to Valentine’s Day. From one conversation to another, we got onto the subject of being alone. Not explicitly in the sense of not having someone to love and celebrate this day with, but more along the lines of not being around others, be it friends, family or loved ones.
No one is comfortable in being alone.
I have that problem. I fear of being stuck in limbo; not being able to move forward, or worse, failing to be the person I want to be.
John and I both agree that when we’re spending our days with friends (or anyone for that matter!), enjoying a good game of football, smoking the occasional hookah, or just sitting around rambling on about absolute nonsense, we are quite content; filling up that mind-numbing emptiness. But who wants to spend the rest of their life having to keep busy with people just to satisfy the troubling thoughts that hang on our shoulders?
So the million dollar question is, how do we go about being comfortable at being alone?
One thing’s for sure; being alone is easy. It’s the experience of being alone that’s troubling. We start to enter this mindset that we’re supposed to feel a certain way when we’re alone, and if we don’t feel that way, then we think that we’re doing it wrong.
When I’m alone, I feel like there’s this preternatural prickling kind of energy gnawing its way out of me that wants me to stop being alone. Not necessarily to find other people, but at least to be engaged in an activity of some sort. It can be a menacing pain; a desolation that starts slowly, like a whining noise. This gradually builds up and makes me want to get up and do different things like watch a video, check my emails and Facebook, or even worse, go to the refrigerator! A sort of repetitive pattern of self-soothing ways to escape from that experience.
But like you, I know there’s something in it. Something more important. So I let myself drift off and start to imagine. I imagine what would bring me great joy coming round a corner, and feeling and experiencing that joy. A sort of meditation. Even a prayer if you like, but that’s kind of cheating because the whole premise is that you’re not alone. But that’s one of the keys to that experience of aloneness, it’s whether you look at it in opposition to being with people, which in that case will always be less than in some way.
I think that is one difficulty that I have with isolation; I can’t contemplate most facets of being without thinking about it in relation to other people; what other people think, what I’m going to appear like to other people, and so, when I’m alone I tend to gravitate towards things that are going to advance my career and it’s not focused just on me.
When we’re alone, random but significant questions pop up and we tend to run away from them, so I guess what I’m trying to say is that we should confront these questions and deal with them as they come along. Just figure it out a little bit. If you were hoping for some sort of instruction manual – a “Being alone for Dummies” type of manual, you’re out of luck. However, we should think of it as a quest. Probably the only true quest that we will ever go on. Because that quest is all about you. Just you. That’s it. It’s a bizarre landscape that you’re in with some crazy exploration to do there that can lead to fun and wild discoveries.
We have to give it a shot because it’s so much easier to just watch a movie or check the refrigerator.
– F. Ifram