Loneliness

I worry about My Gift being lonely in her new home. Dorms were easy, because there was always someone around. More than she liked, as she pointed out repeatedly. Like almost everyone in our family, she needs large doses of solitude.

Despite my concern about her being lonely, I am really happy she chose to stay up in her college town, versus coming home for the summer. It would have been an easy choice, to come home: The Cop and I would welcome her into our home, The Frenchman lives in a neighboring town, her high school friends are often around the area.

So why, if I am concerned about her being lonely, am I happy she’s putting herself in a position to suffer some loneliness? I guess the answer is because I want her to see, or at least consider, that loneliness might be an existential issue that cannot be solved by having other people around. It’s important to learn that loneliness doesn’t kill you, and that it can be alleviated, rather counter-intuitively, by solitude and thoughtfulness and a sense of gratitude.

The usual way to deal with it is to search for a person (particularly a special, romantic interest) or hang out with a bunch of friends. But it’s something of a trap, to think you can only work through loneliness by means of external attachments. I mean, loneliness is a given.

I think of Rumi’s poetry, or Hafiz’s, which are infused with such longing. We’re culturally programmed to read longing as longing for another person, or for an object of some sort, or an event or situation. Just something we don’t have. Something we need.

People always read Rumi’s poetry as if he is longing for a lover. But what he is longing for is a reunification with God/oneness/Ishvara/however you posit the absolute. It’s all about the Atman and the Brahman.

There’s something in us that feels this restlessness. I think we get trained to call it loneliness, and directed to look for a solution outside ourselves. I was thrilled when My Gift said she does get lonely sometimes, but she feels better when she goes outside for a walk in her neighborhood with the dog. She looks at the trees and the houses and can feel as if something has been resolved.

I see this as the heart of thoughtful independence/interdependence. It’s not always easy, but perhaps it is more useful than trying never to be alone.

I’ve not gotten this all worked out in my mind (obviously!) 😉 But it is something important and I am happy she is experimenting with it.

***

And in a very amusing note I just got from my Mom, you can read in one fell swoop pretty much everything there is to know about my parents, as individuals and as a couple:

The mother finch and babies took off yesterday. Now Dad won’t be so stressed. Earlier he thought the mother had abandoned them. He was trying to feed them. They knew he was not their mother.

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