I’m lonely. And I’m lonely in some horribly deep way and for a flash of an instant, I can see just how lonely, and how deep this feeling runs. And it scares the shit out of me to be this lonely because it seems catastrophic. Solitude is fine but you need someone to tell that solitude is fine. Being alone never feels right. Sometimes it feels good and sometimes great but it never feels right. Nobody likes being alone that much. I don’t go out of my way to make friends and that’s just it because it leads to disappointment. But I also know that if you’re lonely when you’re alone, you’re in bad company. When the snow falls and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies but the pack survives.
I’ve never been lonely. I’ve been in a room, rooms. I’ve felt suicidal. I’ve been depressed. I’ve felt awful, awful beyond awful, but never this dreadfully lonely. I never felt that one other person could enter that room and cure what was bothering me, or that any number of people could enter that room for that matter. In other words, loneliness is something I’ve never been bothered with because I’ve always had this terrible itch for solitude. Whether it has been at a party, or at a stadium full of people cheering a game, that I might feel loneliness. I’ll quote Ibsen, “The strongest men are the most alone.” But I do not, even by the slightest measure, feel like I’m one of the strongest at this point.
You know the typical crowd, “Wow, it’s Friday night, what are you going to do? What are you up to? What are your plans for tonight? Just sit there?” Well, yeah. Because there’s nothing out there. It’s stupidity. Stupid people mingling with stupid people. Let them ‘stupidify’ themselves. I’ve never been bothered with the need to rush out into the night. I hid in bars (because I didn’t want to hide in factories) and gobbled glasses of wine (Keg) not because I was lonely but because I wanted to. That’s all. Sorry for all the millions, but I’ve never quite been lonely. I like myself. I’m the best form of entertainment I have. Let’s drink more wine!
But now it’s different. I have absolutely no pleasure in the stimulants in which I sometimes so madly indulged in. It has not been in the pursuit of pleasure that I have periled life and reputation and reason. It has been the desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories, from a sense of intolerable loneliness and a dread of some strange impending doom.
But life is loneliness, right? Despite all the opiates, despite the shrill tinsel gaiety of ‘parties’ with no purpose, despite the false grinning faces we all wear. And when at last you find someone to whom you feel you can pour out your soul, you stop in shock at the words you utter. They are so rusty, so ugly, so meaningless and feeble from being kept in the small cramped dark inside you for so long. Yes, there is joy, fulfillment and companionship, but the loneliness of the soul in its appalling self-consciousness is horrible and overpowering.
The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly. Perhaps now is that time for me. Am watching, powerless to influence how things are unfolding. Feeling powerless over the unfolding of events in my life, and it’s killing me. In moments like this, two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe or we are not and both are equally terrifying. But it so often looks as if everybody in the whole damn world is scared of each other. Why do people have to be this lonely? What’s the point of it all? Millions of people in this world, all of them yearning, looking to others to satisfy them, yet isolating themselves. Why? Was the earth put here just to nourish human loneliness? When you’re surrounded by all these people, it can be lonelier than when you’re by yourself. You can be in a huge crowd, but if you don’t feel like you can trust anyone or talk to anybody, you feel like you’re really alone.
For the most part of my life, all I ever wanted was to reach out and touch another human being not just with my hands but with my heart. But now that I think of it, it sounds more of a delusion than it is possible or practical: a futile hedge against the existential terror that is my own singularity. When I get lonely these days, I think: so be lonely, Cooper. Learn your way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life. Welcome to the human experience. But never again use another person’s body or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilled yearnings. After all, sex is only the consolation you have when you can’t have love. But the memories are overwhelming. Memories of the nights we would fight loneliness wrapped in each other’s arms; or thighs if you like. It’s the memories of such nights that torture me in my most candid moments.
The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared. But who do I share them with? She is long gone. Perhaps wrapped in another man’s arms or thighs expelling loneliness as she so diligently did during those nights as my mind tortures me with memories of her. At this point music is my only refuge. I crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness. I pick up my phone and play Holes by Passenger. It’s gonna be a long night ahead. The music is soothing and the lyrics relatable to. I feel horrible.
I know a man with nothing in his hands, nothing but a rolling stone
He told me about when his house burnt down, and he lost everything he owned
He lay asleep for six whole weeks; they were gonna ask his mother to choose
When he woke up with nothing he said I’ll tell you something
When you’ve got nothing, you’ve got nothing to lose
Where she used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime, and falling in at night. I miss her. I remember her unspoken words. Words she never said out loud. Words she said only by looking at me: “I’m here. I love you. I don’t care if you need to stay up crying all night long, I will stay with you. If you need the medication again, go ahead and take it-I will love you through that, as well. If you don’t need the medication, I will love you, too. There’s nothing you can ever do to lose my love. I will protect you until you die, and after your death I will still protect you. I am stronger than Depression and I am braver than Loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me.”
Her absence has gone through me like thread through a needle. Everything I do is stitched with its color. I feel her absence. It is like waking up one day with no teeth in your mouth. You wouldn’t need to run to the mirror to know they were gone. Perhaps only people who are capable of real togetherness have that look of being alone in the universe. The others have a certain stickiness; they stick to the mass.
Or perhaps I just feel too much; feel much more than I should. Do you think one can feel too much? Or just feel in the wrong ways? My insides don’t match up with my outsides. Do anyone’s insides and outsides match up? I don’t know. I’m only me. Maybe that’s what a person’s personality is: the difference between the inside and outside. But it’s worse for me. I wonder if everyone thinks it’s worse for him/her. Probably. But it really is worse for me.
So many people are shut up tight inside themselves like boxes, yet they would open up, unfolding quite wonderfully, if only someone was interested in them. I don’t know what’s worse: to not know what you are and be happy, or to become what you’ve always wanted to be, and feel alone. We must become alone, so utterly alone, that we withdraw into our innermost self. It is a way of bitter suffering. But then our solitude is overcome, we are no longer alone, for we find that our innermost self is the spirit, that it is God, the indivisible. And suddenly we find ourselves in the midst of the world, yet undisturbed by its multiplicity, for our innermost soul we know ourselves to be one with all being.
Loneliness is a human condition. Cultivate it. The way it tunnels into you allows your soul room to grow. Never expect to outgrow loneliness. Never hope to find people who will understand you, someone to fill that space. An intelligent, sensitive person is the exception, the very great exception. If you expect to find people who will understand you, you will grow murderous with disappointment. The best you’ll ever do is to understand yourself, know what it is that you want, and not let the cattle stand in your way.
Even for me life has its gleams of sunshine. Fiction is one of the few experiences where my loneliness can be both confronted and relieved. Movies where stuff blows up, loud parties; all these chase away loneliness by making me forget my real name and I live in a one-by-one box of bone no other party can penetrate or know. Fiction, football, poetry, music, art, really deep serious sex, and, in various ways, religion. These are the places (for me) where loneliness is countenanced, stared down, transfigured, and treated.
But even so, every now and then I feel a violent stab of loneliness. The very water I drink, the very air I breathe, feels like long, sharp needles. The pages of the book in my hands take on the threatening metallic gleam of razor blades. I hear the roots of loneliness creeping through me when the world is hushed at four o’clock in the morning. There is a loneliness in this world so great that you can see it in the slow movement of the hands of a clock. And as the clock ticks and its four o’clock in the morning, I know it’s time to wear my grinning face again. It’s Monday.
©Cooper Jose Njoroge
When the snow falls and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies but the pack survives.