We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness yet, but if we did, I would say that’s what I want in my life!
There really are only two profound tragedies of the human condition: Impermanence is one and Loneliness is the other. Impermanence is a tragedy of time, loneliness is a tragedy of space. Today I’m going to concentrate on Loneliness, and attempt to find its “opposite”.
We really must define the word “loneliness” before we can attempt to find the opposite. Loneliness is commonly articulated as the sensational byproduct of been physically, emotionally or mentally alone, or a mix of the above. So let’s take an example….you start a new job, you know nobody, you feel like a curious interloper from another planet thrown into a foreign culture. That’s close to Loneliness but still not quite right. You see real loneliness runs a lot deeper than that. It’s when you feel alone even when you aren’t actually alone. Let me explain.
Loneliness is about feeling like you don’t know anybody but more of a feeling like nobody knows you. So how does this manifest itself?
Do you describe your relationship with the world as a car in second gear? Loneliness is an unfulfilled desire for a connection with other humans. A loathing and resignation that directed inward…… kinda like an electrical voltage that sparks a connection but reversed and turned upon itself , paralyzing you the way a taser would.
Everyone loves wit, a compliment or good news. Bring enough of it to enough people and you’ll make them feel warm and fuzzy all over. (Its a great feeling) These are nearly a bullet proof way to be likable. Humans love to be made feel good. It’s a natural thing. Have you done this? Iv done this often…. in fact it is my default setting making people smile and laugh and then vanish into the ether.
I suspect you will believe me that this makes me a hit at parties and social gatherings, and also surprisingly awkward. Here’s the thing….A lot of likable people are completely lonely.
Now let’s talk social media. We craft these social networks and (supposedly) gleefully overshare in the hopes that somebody, anybody will relate to us. We need the connection. Your network could be one, two or three thousand people that you consider friends, or sought out an avalanche of hearts and likes on a professionally candid photo, or a status that doubles as an epic description of your success. Occasionally you will receive the validation and it momentarily makes you feel less lonely. But when all reaction is current, and all reaction is superficial , self loathing and self doubt and the other two horse men of the self- apocalypse ride into our virtual town. Is this a precursor for becoming less lonely?
Your so vulnerable and brave my friends say to me. It takes a lot of courage to bleed onto the keyboard for all to see.
Ahh….. but the masses have been dubbed. What I choose to share with people isn’t an expression of any sort of emotional vulnerability. I am broadcasting, a far less emotional or risky endeavor than conversation. Broadcasting things probably makes you worth listing to, but only a conversation can confirm to people that your worth knowing. So to become someone worth knowing this requires reciprocity and vulnerability. It also requires actual investment of emotional capital into people you wish to know. And there’s only a fixed amount allotted for distribution, in a deeper way than taking 15 seconds to “like” and comment .
To keep up actual friendship it requires resources. To be someone worth knowing requires “real” human interaction. You have to have conversations beyond social media. Expressing your differences, changing peoples minds, passionately defending the points that defend our character. Asking for and offering favors. This is what makes this life worth living. Agree?
When we’re lonely what are we craving ? We are craving more connecting NOT more connections!
The opposite of loneliness is intimacy
the act of revealing your whole true self to someone else and having them reciprocate. It is something you can only do one-on-on, face-to-face, soul-to-soul. Intimacy is lots of things, an act of love, an act of self-love, an act of defiance all in one. It’s gritty, emotional, raw, unfiltered, unabashed, unpretentious and even unguarded. It’s like talking about things together. It’s also about being and about becoming things together.
What are we in this world if not connectable interlocking parts? What is-the point in having joy, suffering, talent and wisdom if not to be shared and imparted? A sole is not a silo, a mind is not a mine. We worship, learn, aid, sing, dance, watch, call, visit, fuck, create, talk, run, love, try, read, write to bring ourselves closer. To make whole what we lack in the emptiness of loneliness. I believe a heart unbroken is a life unwatered, and I believe a dream undashed is a life unlived. I also believe….To play safe,to play solo is to play a fools game. We may very well find success in rising above the rest, but we can only win by lifting up others. That requires intimacy. Intimacy requires the courage to make enemies, equally as easily as we make friends.
And this is how we beat back the gray twilight of loneliness and we find ourselves in the company of those we’ve challenged to truly see and accept us for who we are. Its like a game of emotional and intellectual catch where neither drops the ball. It is transcendent, and it is the momentary defeat of our uniquely human tragedy.