Loneliness

My Shadow at Coos Bay (photo by Richard Gylgayton)

Another late rise because of a late night. Coffee in hand. Oh, that’s good coffee. I’m thinking about the day ahead. Cool and cloudy for once. I can get some outside work done. Time to water the plants. I keep forgetting. 

My self-imposed news blackout continues. Sick of it all. The evil spreads like unbreathable vapor from a swamp filled with Lovecraftian monstrosities. I keep thinking how much easier it is to love than hate.

The problem is fear. Even the rich are afraid. They are more anxious than anyone else. They have more to lose, so they think. I lost almost everything that was significant to me, yet here I am. Alive. Happy. Lonely, but satisfied.

Accepting the loneliness is how you get to enlightenment. Goldberg in Wild Mind. She’s talking to her Roshi: 

“Are you lonely?” I asked him. 

“Of course,” he answered. “But I do not let it toss me away. It is just loneliness.”

So there you have it. There are days I think, how did I get into this writing? But here I am. And the truth is I wanted it.

I get it. I feel like raising my hand and waving it like an excessively enthusiastic student. I always wanted this. I never really thought about it because I had responsibilities. Like Candace, I also had “things that need to be done.” She said that whenever I encouraged her to write more often. Exactly those words. Every single time.

That’s all completed. The remaining responsibilities I have are minor. The girls are grown. Candace has passed. Finn needs me, but he’s laid back. Willing to wait for me in all things. He’s growing old as I grow old. He won’t outlive me though. I ponder that reality often. There are layers to loneliness. Dogs struggle with it also.

Here I am by fate, accident, karma, or as the Chinese say, the “Will of Heaven.” I am lonely. Yes. But so is everyone else. Nothing new there. It is just loneliness. I knew that before I migrated. It’s not so bad. It’s beautiful here. Huge sky. Big clouds. Low stress. Besides, I was lonely in my former home. Those days I was terrified by my solitude. Now, I relish it.

Writing is the reason I am here. I didn’t think much about it when I decided to move. I had other priorities. But it was there, unconsciously. 

Everyone is lonely, even when they are with other people. “Alone with others,” as Stephen Batchelor writes. “Our sense of aloneness and individuality is only conceivable in the light of our constant coexistence with other human beings, and we can only be together with others and participate in their lives because we and all others are in fact distinct individuals.

That’s why there are so damn many love songs and poems. That’s the only way we can even begin to cross the divide and ride the Great Silence between us all. We can recognize others as individuals, but we cannot be inside their heads and their experience. 

So, some of us write. Others make music or art. Cook. Build furniture. Design things. Figure things out scientifically. “Art is a thing done well.” I think Amanda Coomaraswamy said that.

“What is done in love is done well.” I know Vincent Van Gogh said that. 

Process, not outcome. I’ll go deeper and bring the light to the shadows. Light the swamp. Defeat the monsters. That’s what heroes do, after all.


Notes:

Wild Mind, Living the Writer’s Life, Natalie Goldberg, Bantam Books. 1990

Alone with Others: An Existential Approach to Buddhism, Stephen Batchelor, Grove Press, 1983

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