Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Alone In a Crowd of Friends With So Much Noise

I don't think the worst thing is being alone. I think it is surrounding yourself with so many people and so much noise that you can never handle being alone, even when you need to be.

There are many alone moments in life. You can be surrounded by people and every kind of distracting activity and noise.  Yet you know you are alone.

Dexter Gordon, the saxophonist, said in the film 'Round Midnight that the problem with thinking that going somewhere else was going to solve a problem is that when you got there, it was still you who arrived there. He meant you as a solo being cannot be parted from that status and whatever is inside you cannot be cured by moving to another place, or for that matter being with another person. A person had been congratulating him on leaving America for Paris as a way of solving his problems. He knew his problems travelled with him.

The most alone moment is when you are given very bad medical news. At that point, you have entered into a temporary holding place or limbo. No matter who is around you, you realize you may be passing while they are staying. These people do not want to be with you at this moment because they realize you have just crossed to another place and they do not want to follow you there. Or at least not yet.

Still don't believe me? Think back to when you were trying out for something and were surrounded by all of your friends trying out for the same thing. When the decision is made as to who is in and who is out, you are picked and they are not.  Who is alone? You. Flip it. They are picked and you are not. Who is alone? You. You know this even as you are all clapping one another on the backs and promising to get together for drinks over the weekend.  Here too there has been a crossing to another place and so there must be aloneness.

Now think about the busiest person you know. This person has every minute of every day taken up. Constant phone calls, constant socializing, constant working, constant family commitments. Perhaps the only moment this person is alone is when on the toilet or asleep. Is this person amazingly popular or is this person so afraid of being alone, of being forced to face the self and think, that a background of noise and activity must be constantly maintained? Can activity this frenetic ever be a good thing? I doubt it. Note: I think my obsessed cell phone users who are glued to it night and day, talking to absolutely anyone they can, also fit in here.

You are a defendant in a criminal action and you are waiting and waiting and then waiting some more for your verdict.  You are surrounded by family and friends and supporters and lawyers. You are alone. No matter how much noise is being made your entire being has narrowed to the point where you are in a tunnel alone, just waiting to hear your fate. (In this connection, Oscar Pistorius just returned to trial after being found totally sane.  So that "out" is gone. He is totally alone in that courtroom. No one occupies the place where he is living.) 

Many people think that the worst thing is to end up alone at the very end of one's life. I think the worst thing is being so afraid of facing being alone that one fails to grasp that by design we are all alone at the very end.

Some people who are destined to be great loners have special fears which emanate from aloneness. Artists and writers must spend a great deal of time alone to create. Their own special brand of hell as far as aloneness is facing the blank page or the blank canvas. If they can't put something on that blank, they are done. At that point, no matter who or what rushes in to fill the vacuum, they realize they have crossed over to new terrain and that no one can follow them there.

So the enemy isn't the state of being alone.  It is the fear of being alone, a fear so terrifying to some that they run away from themselves each and every day. They hide in a crowd of people and ceaseless activity. All together they make a great deal of noise and as Shakespeare put it best, "signifying nothing."

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this profound insight and putting words to what is a universal human experience. Naming the "enemy" which you have done so well with this entry is reassuring and comforting. Thank you!