Ah, look at all the lonely people. All the lonely people, where do they all come from? All the lonely people, where do they all belong? The famous hook from The Beatles’ hit “Eleanor Rigby”, I must say, sparks interesting questions on the ever-elusive subject: Loneliness. Where do lonely people come from? Where do they all belong?
Loneliness. Sucks. So. Hard. It stings. I believe it’s a dreaded road that everyone must’ve traveled at least once in their lives. There’s a reason why everybody seems to try their best to avoid it. Nobody seems to miss it. Yet it happens, time and time again. And when it does, it weighs us down and floods our minds with unsettling thoughts.
So, what is it then? It was until I stumbled upon the essay of the seventeenth English author, Abraham Cowley, “On Solitude”, did it dawn on me the answer, along with what could be the most alienating words a man could’ve ever said…
Never Less Alone Than When Alone
It was a well-known statement by Cicero, but was first spoken by Scipio, who most people deemed as the most wisest, happiest man living at the time. Scipio, however, did not just speak of it loosely or out of vanity. He spoke of it, after he had made Rome the mistress of all the rest of the world, and in a private house in the middle of the woods, passed the remainder of his glorious life no less gloriously, sheltered from the cacophony of the Romans’ society. His meaning, according to Cowley, undoubtedly was this; that he got more improvement of his mind, and more out of it, by solitude rather than by company.
Cowley, however, further added that the greatest part of men are very far from what the noble Roman had said, saying that if at any chance men be without company, they are like becalmed ships: they never move but by the wind of other men’s breath. They have no oars of their own to steer with.
“Many people play this game so willingly,
Do I have to be like them, or be lonely?”
-Love Is No Big Truth, Kings of Convenience
Let me be the first to attest to Cowley’s opinion, which is nowhere far from true. It’s so befitting, and let me add that he wrote it in the 1600’s. And four hundred years later, his observations towards human nature still apply; that men never endure to be with themselves, when they should love themselves above all the rest of the world. Which is quite paradoxical, to say the least.
Apparently, ourselves is so wearisome to us, that we can scarcely support its conversation for even just an hour. This deplorable condition is what drives men to pitiful shifts in seeking how to avoid himself. Then, how did Scipio do it? How could he finally be the wisest of men at the time, and be never less alone than when alone? Luckily, our friend Cowley here, is so brilliant yet so kind, as to proposed at least…
Three Things That Men Should Do to Be Capable of The Good of Solitude
- The very eradication of all lusts, for how would a man enjoy himself when he’s tied to things outside of himself? The riddance of compulsive cravings is sorely needed, so the solitude life would be ready to starve without them.
- To get the habit of thinking, for it too, no less well than speaking, depends much upon practice. Cogitation is also the thing which distinguishes the solitude of God from a wild beast. To think things through. To think before and well after we act upon something. To plan and evaluate.
- Because neither by nature nor by observation, that the mind of men is not furnished by sufficient amount of stuffs to work on, we need continual recourse of fresh supplies to books and to learning. Arts would be the perfect fit to fill the gaps created in time; be it music, designing, painting. Or even better, poetry, that would just overdo it.
But how does exactly solitude take care of loneliness? It is during our periods of solitude, that we’re actually tuning ourselves to the subtle frequencies that would otherwise be obscured by the noises; …
The Voice of Reason
That’s actually God Himself speaking to us through streams of consciousness; the epiphany. Mine felt like God breathing wisdom right through my ears. This God-bestowed wisdom encompasses every knowledge there is on earth. Everything is connected, and it leaves no questions unanswered, for it gives us new lens to perceive the world on a whole lot different perspective than we did before. Loneliness suddenly becomes just a silly, superficial matter that can be easily explained, as there are only two causes of loneliness that’s been plaguing humanity.
- Firstly, the loneliness associated with lack of sense of purpose. Best portrayed by the people who might have everything there are in the world, even are surrounded by bands of people, yet still feel lonely. Talk about irony? It’s because they lack the sense of purpose and meaning in life. Through solitude, we will find out what God has wanted us to do, which direction to go, what we should be doing for the rest of our lives. God has His own unfathomable ways of telling us. We would comprehend the need to cultivate what God has given uniquely to each and everyone of us, and use those gifts and talents to make the world a better place, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms in the process. By having a sense of purpose, we would no longer feel lonely going down the path, for we know that God has always been, and will always be, with us, to catch us when we fall. We’re on a mission from God, and there are also people akin to us somewhere in the world, that we have yet to meet. So, don’t be so quick to feel alone. We’re not.
- Secondly, the loneliness that is associated with not fitting in. The one that makes people so afraid of rejection as if their lives depend on it. What’s the problem of not fitting in? God created each and everyone of us unique from each other. Unique, by definition, is essentially different. So we are bound to be different. Not fitting in would just be a natural process. What is fitting in for, if one lose oneself in the process, just to obtain the hollow acceptance from others who don’t appreciate the uniqueness different from their own? Difference should be appreciated, even though doing so takes time, effort, and sometimes is hard. Should anyone have a hard time appreciating our own uniqueness, I’d say, that should be their problem, not ours. This way, we let go of our insecurities, and start to love ourselves for what and who we are. Including our flaws, that is. Because nobody is without imperfections. So, stop judging or making such a big deal of others’ flaws and mistakes, for we too, are not without one.
So, all the lonely people, where do they all come from? They come from their own lack of understanding the core questions about life. Where do they all belong? They all belong to God’s liberating truth, that will set them free of their mental slavery that has led them astray. And loneliness is just about one of them, beside the society-imposed pressure on untimely marriage, the outdated cultural customs to keep one’s feelings inside, and the futile necessity to measure up.
Through solitude, we cast away loneliness by acknowledging God’s omnipresence in our lives. Good solitude gives way to wisdom. No longer do we need approval or validation from other people to be ourselves. We would also learn that we inherently have every right to be perfectly comfortable with ourselves. This wisdom brings about maturity. And maturity, as we can see, makes for one less lonely people.