Champion Your Loneliness

There is speculation that Americans, for all of their proud self-reliance, actually promote some of the loneliest people on the earth. We are so interested in gaining freedom from the authority of our parents and the limitations of government; we balk at communal burdens and social obligations. We feel entitled to our own bedrooms, bathrooms and automobiles. We just don’t have much tolerance.

Still, there comes a time when people just need people. It is no secret we are pack animals. Also, even the most introverted people who long for solitude will eventually peek out of their caves hoping someone awaits.

Loneliness is at times so severe that one can lose their mental stability. Long term isolation in prisons and living off the grid in exile has been proven repeatedly to injure humans to the point of madness. Sometimes the elderly are neglected in homes. The soul slips away one day at a time until the shell readies for death.

But there are also lessons to be learned from loneliness.

To begin with, I have felt lonely much of my life, even when surrounded by people. I have often felt misunderstood, an outsider, and certainly experienced hostility too. This casts a shadow of disconnection and sadness. You show up, but no one seems to care.

Additionally, I have suffered with a longing for love as well. It is hard ground to be raised where one is never held, never told they are loved, or asked how they are doing. Or to sleep in a bed with someone you no longer know. This too is lonely.

Moreover, to exist without a partner in an empty nest is sometimes a loneliness that smacks of one’s lost worth. To recognize that no one cares if you leave for a walk or that you lie awake at odd hours, to see that no one wonders where you are at all…this is a new, quieter lonely.

The thing is, being lonely is part of being human. And, barring the cruelty of one’s imprisonment, we do not have to suffer so very much. I know this because I have figured out a way to lessen this emptiness. There are practices that bring succor, and it does not require a constant social network or popularity at all.

Obviously, one must reach out and try to make personal connections, even insist on actual human contact as opposed to the simulated social media. You don’t need me to tell you this.

But loneliness is not always about being alone. It is about intimacy. And the capacity for divine intervention.

Initially, we must promote our relationship with nature. Commune with our pets, commit to gardening, spend time walking or sitting in the wild, immersion in the natural elements is a spiritual lift like no other, even if we do it alone. I rarely feel lonely in nature. In fact, I generally feel as if I am where everyone else would rather be.

Furthermore, we can create. When we put our energy into the creation of any one thing, we forget ourselves. Something beautiful comes of it. And I hate to say this, but even when people choose to create something wicked, they are lost in a purpose that leaves them full. In the end, harmful creation will bring one’s own destruction. But to create something that serves us aesthetically, or in a practical sense, or for societal needs can bring solace to those of us who once felt nothing at all. We begin to feel seen. This is why we must choose to create. It lifts us to a state of pleasure, a higher spiritual ground, to sustain, to build, to rise to a place of satisfaction and deliverance. I create daily, often for hours, and it works.

Finally, and ironically, we can stop fighting it so hard. Sometimes, we can surrender to some moments of loneliness. As the sufi Rumi says, “Suffer the pain.” This comforts me to know that in my loneliness, I am growing. I come to know myself, and I can choose to love myself in it. I am not above dancing alone and laughing alone and cooking fine cuisine alone. I talk to myself and there is no shame in it. I am seeing that there is a time for me to be alone and sometimes, inevitably, it will feel lonely. And that is okay.

It is not natural to never feel sad or hurt or lonely. Lonely is part of the deal here on earth. I can cry or sit with it. I can even talk to it or write to it. I can bathe in a salt bath and watch the lonely run down the drain. I can put myself to bed with lonely and accept that this is not tragic. It just is. I can choose to believe that my lonely is not the enemy. My lonely is what makes my love for others more powerful and deeper than ever. I can see that people who are lonely know a wisdom that comes from all suffering. The preciousness of life and its living souls grows. The greatest connection I have ever experienced is when I look into the eyes of another human who is just as lonely as me. It is a gentle thing. Therefore, the lonely in me honors the lonely in you.

 

Dragons are Real

I like to have imaginary conversations with imaginary friends, and sometimes I pretend people I know are with me at a moment in time, when in reality, they are not. Because I know the power of imagination. Because I know the magic of belief.

The other day, I was running across the Wabasha Street Bridge, trying to place only one foot onto each giant square of cement. Rarely do I look up at all, except to see how much farther the bridge stretches. But one time when I did look up, I saw a dragon in the sky, soaring free! Naturally, a little boy who shows up in a lot of my dreams, I mean like, all the time, was running alongside me with unusual speed. He does not have a name, but he is curious and innocent and for some crazy reason, it is always my job to protect him from some horrid predator, and he isn’t even mine. I have no idea why it is my duty; nevertheless, here we are.

He pointed into the clouds above the bridge and shouted, “Her Ladyship! It looks just like a dragon!” This boy, by the way, is British.

I stopped running and let myself walk at a fast clip, huffing away as if I once smoked cigarettes for over 30 years. I then stated under the duress of poor lungs, “It doesn’t look like a dragon! It IS a dragon.”

Now he was up ahead and stopped and swung his tiny scrunched up face back to me. “Are you telling me the dragon is real?”

“Well, yes. I mean, you are not actually real, but that dragon is definitely real.”

He smiled then under his little tweed cap, and patted his little tweed chest and tummy and his little pale legs with tall black socks to confirm he was in fact just as real as this dragon in any case.

“Stop it now. Dragons are as real as we decide, my good chap!” Sometimes I use the language of the Brits, since it helps him feel those good things he misses back home.

“Do you think the dragon will breathe fire upon the city?” This boy just never lets up. I am not sure what he would do without me. Seriously.

I sighed. “I’m not sure, but I hope I am here to witness such an event should it occur. If he flies away, and he very well might, we should go to the park and lay in the grass and then also grab some ice cream back home.”

“We only have maple nut, and I would far prefer big chocolate chunks.”

“Then we will pretend it has chocolate, and we will take our sweet time with it.”

“I would like that so much! Bloody hell!”

Sometimes he throws a curse on the end of his sentence just to see what I will do.

Thank you, BoyWithNoName.

Why Online Dating is a Spiritual Experience: Part Five – The Aftershocks

The full-on Corona quarantine lasted about 70 days in Minnesota before things loosened up. I had just arrived in my Lowertown St Paul one-bedroom loft at the disoriented start of Covid. My youngest son moved in with his brother; therefore, I would be living alone at age 55 for the first time in my life.

Dating Online slid onto the back burner for a bit. My time online checking profiles and intercepting messages from strangers came to a halt largely because, after Sam (Part 4), I switched my profile to private mode, which meant only those I “liked” would see me. I didn’t like anyone for a good month or more.

Oh sure, I still looked here and there out of habit. Online Dating Sites are highly addictive. But my heart wasn’t in the game.

I had unfortunately landed in a ghost city that held dirty crusty snow, the filth of early spring, and only the homeless people lingered. Everyone else was gone. I spent approximately 23 hours a day alone, isolated in a place where I knew no one. My plans of attending recovering meetings and the artist co-op were ruins in a wasteland. There were no open restaurants. Well, of course, you know.

I had to spend a lot of time teaching high school online then; I was finishing my final year before retirement. There would be little fanfare.

Never before had I felt such crushing loneliness.

What would a woman do with online dating now anyway? Meet some guy in a park like secret agents?

Do you wear a medical mask on a date?

What are the actual risks of human contact? This was a whole new level of awkward. It was just an absurd notion to date now.

In mid-April, I toyed with a couple fish on the phone, but within a day or two released them back to the wild. One guy strung me along on the phone for three days, then finally confessed he was never going to be serious with any woman. It was bleak.

Have you ever sat in a silent room and listened to the analog clock? Time during the Covid isolation became an entirely new dimension. There are many life experiences that have taught me about time, and I often consider time to be a fascinating and spiritual thing. I moved every spring the majority of my childhood. I knew what a year meant, how long it took to form a bond, to attach, to be a person people could name.

I spent a total of 12 hours under a tattoo needle at one point in my life.

My first son was born with 16 hours of hard labor.

I have studied spiritual texts an estimated 3, 950 hours.

I have lived with chronic pain in my neck and shoulders for over 6,000 days.

I have been married four times in less than half the years my sister has been married once.

My time dating online was a blink.

During the third week of Covid, I began to cry a lot. Only divine worship and Netflix kept me sober.

By the 6th week, I was angry. I was bitterly resentful at the plight of my life and the love I might not ever find. But I had done what I always do. I turned it inward upon myself and buried the poison in my bones. That is a very bad thing to do to oneself. And it doesn’t work. I remember sitting on my favorite chair and saying out loud, “No. I’m better than this.”

So I began to shower more. I started taking risks to see my sons just to have human contact. I went out to walk to the park reserve every single day; grocery shopping became the high point of my week. I made elegant meals for one. I was letting my hair grow out, painting and doing yoga again, and Zooming with my new sponsor daily. I danced by myself a lot. I was rising like a phoenix. And I was doing it alone. I was remembering that while I will always long for love, I can still be someone that I like right now. My spirit was coming back to life.

This is what spiritual warriors must do.

As the school year ended, I had one week left of my online dating membership. We all watched in horror at the fall of George Floyd. The city began to burn and the glorified cell in which I was living became my refuge after curfew. I thanked the gods I could breathe every single morning, since I was a privileged white woman and Covid hadn’t killed me yet.

Ironically, the day before Floyd was killed, I had contact with an African American man just two days before the finish line. He was the only man I met in person through the dating site since Sam back in February. I had never dated a black man, and this was a pretty intense time to start. He was beautiful and classy and maybe even overqualified by my standards. Kissing him was a timeless wave of dancing underwater. I saw him three times before I realized I was more in love with the idea of him than the actual man himself. I had done that once before, fallen into an idea that wasn’t real, and spent the rest of my life carrying the guilt of it. I told him I wasn’t feeling it. He played it cool and let go with the ease of a champion. And just like that, he was but a strange and distant dream.