What If There’s No Loneliness?

Re-imagining the fear of alone-ness.

Photo by author.

Oh, have I been lonely.

I have felt the weight of being separated from the pack. I have carried that alone-ness brick in my chest; walked the streets round-shouldered, passing neighborhood cats on their stoops and been too hollowed out to invite them down for a cuddle.

In my 40s, still single and living alone, I had moments of fearing my solo-ness, as if my chronic singularity wasn’t enough to withstand the storms of life (unemployment, illness, starting and ending relationships, new business ventures). When I got curious enough to examine the fear visitations, I saw this image of the worst-that-could-happen:

Me, alone, under a bridge, with nothing but a shopping cart.

But recently I saw something new in this image of loneliness, on the 362nd day of a work-at-home pandemic, while staring at a pair of fir trees: In the long green arms of the trees I saw no loneliness, no aloneness. I received the information almost as if the tree put it into my body.

What if there is no loneliness —

——other than what’s created in our imaginations?

There is no aloneness with the shopping cart, the grimy chrome weathered by thousands upon thousands of fingerprints. You are here with a crowd! Your clothes are second-hand, well-worn; there’s a history of skin prints on your back, a quiet chorus of companionship embracing you.

See the scrolls of graffiti, tagged in bright reds and midnight blacks into the underbelly of the bridge, like your own Sistine Chapel sanskrit. Out of control, Zephyr Heist, Impeach life!— this is your poetry, something to read and re-read like a sacred text.

Your bridge underpass is next to a lake that’s almost 22 miles long. The fish and algae and lake cells are an entire galaxy of life communicating with you through tides and whitecaps. The calm days give you a mirror into which you can smooth your eyebrows, and realize in a 10 o’clock hour that the self doesn’t exist.

The velvet sky, the city-sleeping sky, the meteor shower sky, everything that the housed citizens miss out on as they snore on their Temperpedics; you see the gold dot of Mars nestled next to the moon, a rare occurrence of the aurora borealis at 4:33 am on a July morning.

Your stomach grumbles. There are no humans to talk to or hands to hold. You feel alone. You are not alone. Is the tree alone? Is the mountain alone? If the wave that rises from the ocean feels singular and separate, is it still not part of the ocean?

You, me, all of us, we are the wave rising out of a body of water, sometimes feeling separate and peculiar, scared and alone.

You are a singular body beneath a kaleidoscope of sky.

You are one body occupying the underside of a bridge, half a mile from where two people are arguing over a constellation.

You are one among a neighborhood, a voting district, a state, a country surrounded by massive bodies of waters bursting with life.

You are one of billions of humans, among all the water ways and bridges and connecting suburbs, great cities, the mountain ranges, the crowded highways, the beaches, the oceans, the sea creatures, the air particles, the morning dew, the carbon emissions, the big dipper the creases of dusk in the night sky.

You are not alone. The whole universe lives inside you.

Writer, coach, swimmer, runner, late-marrier. I coach writers, professionals & re-inventors. Everyday Creative Coaching, www.everydaycreative.net

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