March 31, 2009

read in restaurants

No one else has your set of genes. No one else has lived your life. No one else thinks your thoughts. Unique. Alone.

You know those adverts, groups of smiling people, the rosy ideals of forever friends, soul mates and family reunions – togetherness sells. We phone people and drink with people, pray with people, watch football with people and shag people to stay plugged in to our togetherness. ‘…no soul can live an isolated life. It is not only that it cannot get along without the assistance of others; it is in direct conflict with its essence to be something apart.’

This weekend party girls went to the lake, home girls were rained in, the family was far away, and my phone was quiet. I was alone. ESCOM followed the trend and abandoned area 47, leaving me in the rain with a few candles spreading little circles on white walls. I seriously don’t think I’ve ever been THAT alone in my whole life.

Times this abandonment by ten. Remember the last time someone you loved, got too busy / moved away / died, feel it for a minute, remember amongst all those emotions, the terror… an implosion deep down in your gut, a gaping void of nothingness. Alone. For a few moments a future of no one looms….

People will walk past you at church, you’ll buy one concert ticket, you’ll make your own birthday cakes, you will sit by yourself at the bar and read books in restaurants, and when you die it will take them days to discover your cold body. hmm.

I get it, we’re social creatures - I am because we are, and feeling alone is not natural. But why is the prospect so deeply scary?

Carrie: When did being alone become the modern-day equivalent of being a leper?

This fear, how much is it responsible for; marriages, kids? how is the terror expressed; excessive patriotism, over achieving, escapism? What does living in fear do to us? ‘When loneliness drives our search for love, kissing easily leads to biting, caressing to hitting, looking tenderly to looking suspiciously, listening to over-hearing. Clinging to one another in loneliness is suffocating and eventually becomes destructive.’

The alternative is solitude. Much has been said on the subject, even by myself. A lifelong struggle of conscious choices about who to spend time with, what to study, how to pray, when to ask for advice, how to enjoy the next quiet weekend.

We come into this world alone, we leave it alone, and we answer to God alone. The question is whether we let our aloneness become loneliness or whether we allow it to lead us into solitude.

‘It's an interesting combination: Having a great fear of being alone, and having a desperate need for the solitary experience. That's always been a tug of war for me.’

Carrie, Sex in the City
Henry Nouwen
Jodie Foster


  1. Choose a side and stick to it. To quote one Enya: "It's either this way or that way, one way or the other..."

  2. africanpaidagogos01 April, 2009 10:26

    I like hermits..

  3. I think if choosing to be alone is what one wants it is important to be known for something of which your solitude is the (aiding) attribute which differentiates you from everyone else. I think a lot can be said of those who use their alone time productively. Quality time

    One of the irony's of loneliness is how it can be experienced by the most ... Read moresocial among us. VERY socially active and connected people who are always with someone regardless of their lifestyles also have their "empty inside" moments of fear, its probably what animates their social lives. I think this depends on whether you are a narcissist or borderline personality type. You either strive to be recognized as special in the hopes of finding your mirror image in anothers looks, intelligence, wit, decibel level! etc or prefer to be recognized for that which makes you different without any immediately obvious cues to the question of you.

    Its like comparing Dark City(a MUCH better movie) to the Matrix..

  4. I think I understand ur struggle. Mike says choose a side. Its not tht easy. We ebb and flow. We need then we unneed. We inhale then we exhale. We blink open then close. We see the dawn then the dusk. We seem to be surrounded by a bunch of opposites we cant pray away or think away or choose away.

    Heck half the time we dont even know what we need or why in the other people.

    Indeed how many marriages and kids are born out of this fear? How many alliances? How many friendships? How many clubs? How many ministries?

    Yet on the flipside of the backside of this downside is not the dark fear but the glorious aspiration. The higher self that was made to thrive in community, in a symbiosis of thought.

    They say Memes seek to replicate themselves and will drive us to seek out avenues where they can pass on to others so that they can immortalize themselves.

    So heck maybe we are but puppets in the hands of forces that we cant rebel against whether you call these forces God and the devil, Karma, Memes, Evolutionary Genetics or fantasies born outta too much food.

    What are we talking about again?????


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