On Aloneness, Loneliness, Silence

Up in the high Himalayas, there is a sacred lake, in the shape of a crescent moon, emerald blue surrounded by snowcapped peaks. In the early hours of the day, when the sun has not yet broken into the world, there is a serene calmness here. The still waters that create mirror reflections of the landscape are only juxtaposed by the howling winds that sweep this place. A few moons ago, when I had the grace to visit this place, I sat on a rock next to the lake and wondered that for millennia these mountains and waters have been here. Numerous visitors like me have come and gone. These mountains have witnessed it all. If they were able to communicate, what stories might they tell?

But all that I experienced is a profound silence that permeated my entire being down to the soul. Here is also where I experienced aloneness, loneliness, and silence, all at the same time.

I realized that aloneness is an emotion that I had to face very early in life. During my growing-up years, having been sent away from my family, which shattered all sense of safety, security, and love, the fight for survival was the top priority. It was a phase of aloneness – of learning to live by myself, without emotional support, physical hugs, or any ounce of familial care. This trait has stuck with me to date, where my survival instincts immediately kick in whenever I am in a crisis situation. Even without realizing it, my subconscious keeps tabs ready for the worst-case scenario, and always has a backup plan. Early separation from all attachments has today led me to a path of self-discovery that I wouldn’t trade anything in the world for. Aloneness is being comfortable in your skin, by yourself.

Loneliness, on the other hand, seeped into my life also around the same time. However, it only ever reared its head unexpectedly and caught me unaware, sending me into a downward spiral of depression and suicide attempts. This emotion makes its appearance every so often even now and each time I can trace it back to attachments and clinginess to the outside world. Loneliness is when you want to reach out to someone, anyone, but can’t – to share happiness or to seek comfort. That heart-ripping, breath-choking feeling when existence itself becomes a burden, can be said to be loneliness.

Humans are supposed to be social creatures, but somewhere down the line, ego plays and dramas have become a priority than love and kindness. It is in these circumstances that loneliness rears its head in the form of love you feel but can’t express, an ache to hold hands but have to respect another person’s boundaries. Loneliness is a conflict between the soul and body.

Silence, although being as close to void as possible, is multifaceted. In silence, you can hear the soul of the universe, your own heartbeat, and God’s breath. It is also in silence that you can hear everything that is left unsaid. Silence from others can feel disconcerting and even have a facet of rejection. I have been subjected to such silence and I have also subjected others to this.

It is easy to assume others’ silence and internalize it, but the truth is, it is never about you. Every person on this earth has their own anxieties and struggles and they are just caught up in them. They are not uncaring or unfeeling – they are just self-absorbed, or rather self-focused. And that is okay. All my life I have felt unlovable and invisible within my family, but sitting with the feeling of silence has also made me realize that they are unable to look beyond their own world.

My own personal focus has shifted from trying to please and fit in to finding and appreciating people who give me a sense of awe and wonder; souls who inspire me. Silence for me has evolved into a place of complete acceptance of both the raging war and the serenity within.

l see myself forever and ever as the ridiculous [person], the lonely soul, the wanderer, the restless frustrated artist, the [person] in love with love, always in search of the absolute, always seeking the unattainable.

Henry Miller

One of the biggest shifts in perspective in the past few months has been my irrelevant take on being alone. Understanding that it was a cope trying to get comfortable with loneliness when what was needed was comfort with silence and this can happen even when surrounded by people. Humans by default are designed to be part of tribes, we thrive in groups. Families (blood or chosen) are fertile grounds for growth, nourishment, and healthy societies. The intimacy of tribes holds us together, heals our deepest wounds, and cheers our smallest achievements.

When we consciously cut away from what is our natural instinct, it creates a soul split far greater than any other wound. Self-preservatory actions do just the opposite, it makes us paranoid and suspicious of everyone’s intentions, even when someone is reaching out with love. In refusing to accept affection, love, and support, we subconsciously close ourselves at the same time yearning for the very same things, and then wonder why the world is being so cruel towards us. Surprise, surprise! Here’s a mirror to look at!

Saying ‘get comfortable with your loneliness‘ is the worst thing to say and now when I come across something like this, my immediate response is ‘no, no, no, don’t do that’, instead get curious about it and try to understand why that came up and what can be done to not feel lonely. If the universe is perfect the way it is, then so is this moment of loneliness, but it is definitely not here so you can make a permanent home with it! As for me, I have come to understand that I want loud, big tribes, being with people – and finding my silence through them all.

Aloneness, loneliness, and silence have all been experienced at some time or another. On that day, while sitting on that rock near the lake in the mountains, aloneness made me witness the magic that nature was displaying just for me at that moment, loneliness pressed through because despite being near the person of my affection, I was unable to share that moment, and silence prevailed upon it all as surrender and acceptance of what was transpiring within and without.

2 responses to “On Aloneness, Loneliness, Silence”

  1. I won’t be able to read everyone’s posts, but I can’t refrain from reading your first! What a journey, I know there’s a lot to unpack there, but I can feel the roller coaster. So glad you’re clearing things up within/for yourself, just like the clear reflections of the water. 💜

    Like

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