Tuesday, April 23, 2024

The potency of loneliness

 We all feel lonely. I don't think anyone is ever untouched by it. 

I've been doing my own observational study on the idea, the reality, the very life of loneliness. I see people all around me - some with lives full of activities and people, some with quiet, almost isolated lives, some with lives marked by chaos, some in large cities, some in the middle of nowhere. There is no dominant feature that orchestrates loneliness in a human being. 

I met a solo hiker going down the Grand Canyon - he was alone, but I don't' think he was lonely. He engaged with several hikers along the way and he had such a merry heart. He was so filled with joy and his revelry in the beauty of that place was infectious. 

I see Lochlan, surrounded by a family, a band of bros, who love him and build into him almost every moment of every day. Yet, I know he is lonely, locked inside himself. I think it contributes to his almost constant frustration. If I could set him free... 

I see the loneliness inside of a marriage - two people who live alongside one another but in very separate lives. Even if the two are united in purpose, in ideas, in the daily workings of what makes life happen, they can still find themselves with a sense of aloneness. 

I see loneliness in the single life. Even with resolute and genuine contentment with one's "station in life" there can be the dull ache of being alone in all the important or minuscule ways. 

Sometimes I feel alone because trying to find answers for my child is such a seemingly endless road. When no clear answers can be found, day after day, month after month, year after year, I start to feel like I'm walking on the road of darkness and mystery by myself with no definitive end. 

We look at loneliness as a bad thing - and it can be, for sure; it's probably not a state in which we should any of us persist indefinitely. Yet, I also see how loneliness can play it's part in shaping whom we become. It can build into us appreciation, awareness, kindness, compassion and even a brokenness that can lead us to the right kind of strength. It can give us eyes to see.

It is through my own loneliness in all the various seasons of this life that I have come to understand that I am not ever truly alone. Like my imperfect tree with the lightning strike scar running down the side, I have to face the incoming storms; yet, if I look around, I am not alone. 

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