This ‘big-empty’ needn’t be life-long state, but seems to grow as we enter later chapters of life; kids are grown, friends come and go, some die off, circumstances change, goals re-focused – life becomes more precious while things which used to matter hardly matter at all. Joy, no longer captured by Kodak or stored on thumb drives; joys are captured glimmers, shards and moments.
Illusion, perhaps delusion, that I’ll find idyllic life partner who can’t wait for morning just to wake up next to me and live another day of reciprocal co-comforting bliss – packed away, not forgotten – because a glimmer, shard or moment might show up …
Unlike many I see, not whining away time over a ship that never entered by harbor or collision I never bumped into. Still open to bumping, but please, hurry up will ya!
Seriously, happiness is not the opposite of loneliness and temporary happiness is not, on its own, an antidote for down-ness. I hesitate to use the word depression because I don’t think loneliness, on its own, equates to depression.
YES, we can be very happy alone. I still believe people are like shoes – they work best paired.
I also believe we can be happy within our loneliness. How? By not denying it. By not sweeping it under a carpet or hiding it as something to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. If we are lonely, for as long as we are lonely, we should be flying the loneliness flag on our ship along with our sails. And when the winds or currents take us in less-lonely directions we can take down that flag.
One solution element I like (thanks for sage advice from Ben Farnham many years ago when we said: Cultivate lots of younger friends’) is hanging out with younger, not older, people more.
I have found – when we reach out to someone, whatever their situation or state of mind, we lift them a little and we sometimes surprise ourselves by lifting ourselves a lot, to the point where we likely get more benefit than we give. Our motivation should be to give for the purpose of giving without a focus on the getting, but we can get a lot.
The late Larry Solway told me his feelings. I’ve heard and read similar messages from others – about getting older, feeling irrelevant and ‘not so useful’. I don’t believe that is a fact of life for anyone unless enable it, and then it is overwhelmingly true. Don’t do that! It’s not about facts or actions of others, it’s about attitude in our own head. Happiness, non-loneliness and relevance are connected. Keep them connected. Each one a leg on this three-legged stool of sanity …
Your column. Today. Well-captured thoughts on behalf of a community of lonely souls. From across the miles. Feeling it. Thank you, BJ, Toronto, ON
HI Mark, I have been too busy to read your columns lately but today I took the time. So glad I did as this is a poignant truth written from the depths of your soul. Thanks for sharing. So often we read your words and don’t realize a response is part of the relationship, SF, Lethbridge, AB