Existential loneliness

Alot has been written about loneliness. The acute pain that afflicts the heart, or the gut, or perhaps lives in the deep, dark, cobwebbed basement of the soul. People experience this loneliness when they lose a beloved friend, furry companion, a spouse or family member. Or when depression sucks the air out of one’s life.

We don’t go looking for loneliness. We’re tribal people who thrive on social contact, mostly. The psychologists say relationship is important to stay mentally healthy. I would agree.

I hadn’t experience loneliness for quite a while. I asked myself one day, “When was the last time you felt excruciatingly lonely?” I sat with it and journaled for awhile.

So “peopled” had my life in the city and halls of my workplaces and social life become, that I was now hungry for loneliness. What did it taste like? What did it feel like to be in the virgin territory of my own soul’s reflections, not dictated by prescribed social situations, cultural messages and narratives? My soul was ripe for the lessons of being alone.

I’ve been exploring loneliness alot these days. What it means to live on the edge of the void. Emptiness.

Somedays it’s more uncomfortable than others. The hardest time is nighttime when the light of the sun goes out and I’m left with hours of darkness. Alone.

I came here wanting for this. The strange loneliness of chosen exile. My soul drove me here, away from the conveniences of our little cheerful abode and the comforts of those who see me, know me, love me, define me.

I have 60 days here. Surely something will shift me from the seething grief that I spent most of 2020 almost drowning in. My spiritual director says that it is so.

But, unlike Jesus, who was driven into the wilderness to face his temptations, those cravings have already been spent in me. My wilderness was the entirety of 2020. Each day a new opportunity to face my stinkin’ thinkin’, the hubris of my own thoughts under lockdown. The violence of my own anger when faced with political insanity and racial cleansing. The sorting and discarding of dreams that needed to be released in my life. The bursting of the bubble of comfort, convenience and security. I was going through the same cultural cleansing, but mine was very, very, very personal.

So, there is a certain relief in finally moving forward. I come to this lonely wilderness time, clear eyed and ready to write. The inner turmoil stopped as I heeded the green light to come here. I am ready to open this door. I can endure the loneliness, the inconvenience, the cold. The fires of purification have already been upon me. This feels easy in contrast.

This time is about coming home.

Photo by Maria Orlova on Pexels.com

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